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WORDS  of  THE VISUALS

Year in Review: 3-Letter Words 2020 has Taught Me

Hello! It's been a while. I know I kind of snoozed-out from blogging here even with my monthly prompt hahaha. I've been pretty busy catching up on last-minute stuff that I've lost a lot of time for me to create content to put in here. I'll try to make up for that though. In the meantime, here is a year-end post haha


I feel like saying that 2020 has been one heck of a wild ride would be quite an understatement. I'm not even sure if there's a word that's ample in meaning to describe the craziness of the finished year. But here are four 3-letter words that helped me define 2020's themes and lessons on my side of the lens. Why 3? I also don't know hahaha. All I know is that while writing down my reflections on the 12 months that had passed, these are the words stuck in my head. Just so happens that they all shared the same amount of letters in them. Ha!


NOW

If there’s anything that this year has made clear it's that everything is fragile. Everything is fleeting. The number of times we’ve been uprooted from a ground of comfort and then thrust into completely uncharted waters had burned achingly bright in my consciousness. From the numerous anxieties, my mind went crazy for, the thought of never knowing until when I’m allowed to enjoy the things I enjoy now has got to be one of the most heavier ones. I know life is as shitty as shitty could go right now, but what if the very things that keep me (subconsciously) afloat suddenly disappear too? More than the anxiety over losing them, my fear mostly was that at the end of it all, I end up realising I never really savoured the moments while I still had them. I think the regret weighs more heavily than the very sadness of losing. That’s when I realised how crucial it was for me to list down and acknowledge every little thing that I would feel devastated over if I ever did lose them.


My dogs. My family. Our house. Our ability to buy, store, and enjoy food. My cozy little room. The fact that I can just be, and not panic over where the fuck I’d be staying in for the night. The fact that we have enough.



I think the thought of waking up one day and then realizing I don’t have my dogs to hold, to love—that alone can break me enough a thousand times over. I can’t even imagine living in a world without my sister, my mother, my father, or anyone in my family. I know 2020 is a very, very, very terrible year in general. But I also know that if I don’t adjust my focus, I will end up throwing myself into greater heartaches than this year had offered the world. Focusing and living in the now makes sure that I get to heartily appreciate everything that I have now, and not waste them all on mind-trick-fears of the unknown, only to wake up on the very moment they disappear.


2020 had me holding my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop over my head, all the while forgetting the other shoe I’ve got right in front of me. If you think about it (and I know this might sound stupid to some (mostly the nihilistic ones hahaha)): at the end of it all, it won't be trivial things or the length of time we'll have here on this earth (or even our sharp quips about how pointless living is, all because of the fact the "we'll all die anyway") that will define how well and smartly we've lived. It'll always be about how much we've lived in a moment that will measure our ability to savour the one life we've been given. Even back in the pre-covid era, we've already lived with this notion that one way or another, we’ll all die at some point. We’ll all feel loss at some point. But I guess the real trick is finding out how well you’ll spend everything you have while you still have it.



PAY


I feel like 2020 did not leave a single stone unturned.


With Mother Nature catching up to us and making us feel all the more the irreversible effects of climate change (an inevitable consequence of mankind's lack of action towards the climate crisis (I'm looking at you, big corporate business owners)), the BLM movement exposing the police brutality and discrimination towards black people, the exposure of the police brutality and killings here in the Philippines and how they take advantage of power over marginalized people, this pandemic showing in full display the capabilities of our town, city, and country leaders’ ability to truly lead and hold up their promises from when they were still convincing the masses to put them in the seat, even all the cheating, predatory tactics, and emotional and physical abuse exposed by countless of victims (mostly women)...I think one of the major themes this year was that the world has its way of making you pay your dues. NOTHING is free, karma is real.


You know what’s weird is that when people hear the word “karma” they immediately think about “punishment” or “curse”, but really, it’s just a mirror. What you do about it determines whether it'll be a curse or a blessing. Karma is life’s way of ricocheting the energy and intentions we put out into the world, holding us accountable for our actions and intentions. Ultimately, what you give out will recycle back into you.


Think of it like loaning—you’re presented with a number of choices all the time in life, and every decision you take from this colorful selection registers into life’s bank book. Whatever you’ve decided to avail from life will be asked back from you, one way or another. Try to run, and it’ll come back to bite you in the ass with interest (and trust me, life's one hungry hunter). Sometimes it even asks you of the very thing you ran away from—life's funny that way. So say you decided to run away from responsibility; life will indulge you with that choice (and not to mention, privilege), but eventually, it'll give you some other form of responsibility that this time, you won't be able to get out of. A prime example of this is how humankind ignored the calls of mother nature for years. Look at us now: facing the consequences of climate change and under the great pressure of making it right in under 10 years, or the world will heat up by an additional 2 degrees, and will begin in becoming uninhabitable. That's the thing: the more refusal of acknowledgment one does towards their karmic consequences, the more it adds up, intensifies, and eventually snowball into an avalanche of painful truth—some with less obvious signs, some with achingly hard-to-ignore sirens of red lights. Life has a funny way of instilling karma in various aspects of our life. It finds a way to follow us around and cleverly blend into our everyday lives until we recognise it for what it is and what it is trying to convey. And the only way out is to pay and make it right. In witchcraft, you can’t just cast a hex on anyone without paying a price—every hex comes back to you three times over. I love that sense of accountability from the get-go; the acknowledgment and acceptance that you can’t just do whatever you want for free, especially when it's ill-natured. Karma is the universe's way of guiding us to the right path. It's a blinking light of chance to make things right and to make our paths straight.


I think in one way or another, we all have some kind of debt to pay. The beauty about it is that, if you’re paying attention enough, it teaches important lessons to guide us through life. Disregard it, and you’ll end up paying back more than what you've bargained for. So be courageous and make things right. Don’t let it pile up. Pay attention, and pay your dues.

LET


In my 26 years in this life, I was never one to make elaborate plans for the new year. I’ve always believed in the saying “man plans, God laughs”, which this year has painfully remained us all. This concept ironically slapped me hard on the face because back in December of 2019, I gathered my lazy ass and made these detailed checklists for “the new millennium ahead!”—from creative goals, to financial, to life—I feel like a big clown. God’s probably laughed up a storm going “this girl really had how many years to strap on a pair and grow tf up, but she chose THIS year” HAHAHAHA. Ah, well.


Even though I still think that planning is a crucial part of surviving this crazy life, I think this year has taught a lot of us to just let go. Not in every aspect per se, but more on the pursuit of bending life into our every will. I know that was easier for most during the pre-covid era. Want to get away from it all? Book a vacation trip. Want to celebrate? Go out with your friends and family! Feeling lonely? Go out and meet new people. Want to relax? Book a massage! There were so many means to an end just right there at our fingertips, and now we’re suddenly thrown into a world where countless amount of complications and what-ifs are tied to those very things that used to be our saving grace of instant gratification.


There has been so much dilemma over that loss of control that the idea of letting things be and riding the wave has either been the enemy or the final sigh of giving up. But to me, when you’ve carefully mastered the art of riding the wave of life, you’ll find that there’s a third door that opens up for you; one that allows you to be carefree whilst still being in control. When you accept life as it is and not for what and how you want it to be, you enter another realm of possibilities that lets you have the opportunity to plan things out, but still manages to surprise you with new adventures, opening your eyes to different perspectives and vision.


Life is never gonna be within our grasp the whole time. But when we learn to let it be and accept it for what it is, I believe we’ll find that we can have more from life itself than just the pressure of struggling with it, and that is the pleasure of truly living in it.


DIE


I think we can all agree on how much this year felt like death. Let’s start with the wildfires, then the volcano eruptions, the death of coral reefs, mass deforestations, typhoon surges, and then came the covid era. What’s worse is that it doesn’t stop in natural disasters—the police killings, mass shootings, abuse of military power...if this year were a tarot card, it’d be Death.


Here’s the thing about the Death card though, that I believe is also true for most connotations on death: it comes with rebirth. In most (if not all) beliefs, concepts, and scientific processes, there’s always some form of life after death; a new beginning after an end; a cycle of life. Whether its as simple as germination of new plants in an ashen ground, to more complex ideas like eternal life that is heaven, or being reborn into someone or something else, or even ending up stuck in this world as some form of spirit—there’s always some form of rebirth that happens after some drastic event of death and destruction.


With all the deaths that have happened this year (literally, but mostly figuratively), I think there has also been some kind of process of revival for anyone that has experienced some kind of life-dismantling event, one way or another. After all, without death, there cannot be a chance for a new life. Often, the phenomenon of things going up in smoke and going through the turbulence of fire and destruction paves a new breeding ground for a new life. And as we stand on the ashes of what was, an opportunity of reinvention for what is to come presents itself: for from ashes, a microcosm of genius natural science occurs, allowing the cycle of life to happen and lead to a humble burst of new hope and renaissance—something like a baptism of fire and rain.


If this year has made death something of palpable weight against our fingertips, imagine the resurgence of life waiting for us afterward, and the zest of ever-new energy it has in store. If we welcome the chance of it in, and if we are willing to work through our issues and transgressions to be deserving enough of it, and if we’re patient and forgiving in its process, new life will spring from the ashes and rebirth will inevitably happen.

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