I am sitting here in my living room, watching a plane's final descent into LAX just beyond a palm tree.
The movie "Iron Man" is playing for the umpteenth time at a low volume on the television.
Emotional support background noise, if you will.
And I am sitting here, attempting to summarize the past year for perspective, and prepare for whatever comes next in the new year.
While I haven't done much writing (or reading, which I deeply regret, and would love to remedy in the new year) I did come to the realization that it is good for me to have actual conversations with people every now and then.
I admit to being fairly introverted. I can be social when necessary (see: singing in choirs), but I don't actively seek out occasions to interact with large groups of people, and I mostly try to avoid the forced gaiety of group activities. I also freely admit to being socially awkward. Anyone that's spent enough time either being ignored, or being mocked mercilessly when they do join a conversation, is going to learn to contribute infrequently, and in small measured doses.
In a way, social media helps the socially awkward by avoiding any face to face interaction, and the subsequent possibility of rejection, by being a platform by which anyone can drop by at any time, and express their opinion on any subject in writing. Hey! Writing is something I can do, and do fairly well. Although there is still there will still be disagreement, most people will be civil when they disagree (most of the time anyway, internet trolls notwithstanding). Unfortunately, social media hurts in the exact same way it helps: By avoiding in person conversations, there are those who use the relative anonymity of the internet to say the foulest things imaginable while avoiding any accountability for their rhetoric.
What I did notice this year, is that the occasional in-person conversations that I have had with those I don't see very often have been so good, not just for me, but for everyone just getting to see and/or interact with each other.
The occasional conversation with a sibling on the other side of the country that allows us to catch up on each other's lives in real time.
The conversations enjoyed during long car rides with a good friend that I rarely get to talk to as we are both busy during the day, and generally exhausted in the evening.
The wide ranging conversation had during a spontaneous pool party with a couple of great friends that absolutely renewed my soul at the end of a much too short vacation.
The spontaneous drop-in on a dear friend, my daughter's former sitter (and alternate mother figure!), that provided a wonderful opportunity to catch up after a particularly trying year for all involved parties.
My take away from this is that, going forward, I need to make sure that I communicate with others, in person, even if I do fear negative interactions during these conversations.
Over these past few years, I have found myself facing quite a few of my fears, whether I intended to or not.
As we walk gently out of this year and into the next, I find myself dealing with a few of my most serious fears staring me down from far closer than I am comfortable with.
What I plan to do, is to continue on how I have thus far: Keep Praying. Keep handling anything that comes up to the best of prayerful wisdom and my abilities.
And to keep having these conversations when I can, so that I can know that I am not completely isolated, and can even be an ear to others when needed. Which we all need sometimes.
See you on the other side.