In a matter of hours, we’ll be officially ditching 2009 and jumping into 2010. In doing so, not only are we celebrating a new year, but we’re also celebrating the end of the first decade of the 21st century. What a difference a decade makes!
I remember in late December, 1999 watching people lose their minds stocking up on water, batteries, and duct tape in preparation of the immiment doom we knew as Y2K. By most estimations, airplanes were supposed to fall from the sky, building were supposed to crumble to the ground, and every machine on the planet was supposed to turn on us. Then, Jan 1, 2000; 12:00 AM hit. We all looked at each other like idiots and went back to bed.
After the hype of Y2K died, it looked as if a legitimate doomsday was upon us when George W. Bush stole won the election for President of the United States. At that moment in my brief career of civic engagement (2000 being the first time I ever voted), I decided early in my life that I would swear off electoral politics forever. This nonsense was not what I expected.
Things took another surreal turn when 19 knuckleheads decided to crash a few airplanes on 9/11; forever altering the country’s history; both geopolitically and economically. At the outset, I had to give it up to President Bush for atoning for his infamous delayed response, and getting down to business in Afghanistan. But once the conflict somehow became about Iraq, it was all she wrote. After the country baffled the heck out of me by re-electing Bush, that was truly it for me. I was done with politics.
But then something strange happened in 2006: in response to scandals as far as the eye could see, a lousy war, and a faltering economy, we saw a complete facelift in Congress…restoring some faith I had in the general electorate. Granted, the new Congress sucked as bad as its predecessor…but it at least represented a change in thinking from voters. Things took an even more suprising turn when, for the first time in the history of this country, a black man (OK, bi-racial) would be elected POTUS. True, Obama had a LOT of help from the crappy economy and bizarre choice in running mates from his opponent, but he was able to ward off not one, but two extremely powerful political machines to lay claim to victory. I saw an amazing level of political involvement (honestly, from both sides) that made me proud again of being an American voter. While I think ideological voting still reigns supreme; leaving conscious, informed voters a small minority, it was refreshing to see some of the ploys used in 2000 and 2004 (fear mongering, separatism, etc.) falling flat on their face.
Also to be noted is the explosion of technology we’ve seen over the past decade. Social networks, high definition, 3G, and other advances have allowed us to connect with each other with much more ease and luxury than what we’ve ever been able to before. At the touch of a button, I can literally hook up with another person anywhere on the planet. Starting a blog has allowed me to share thoughts and develop close relationship with people even when convention connections (i.e. face-to-face meetings) are – in no way – possible. Facebook has become my new best friend for reacquainting with people I once considered all but lost. Having family and friends spread all across the country has become a small, cursory detail with the invention of text messaging, email, tweats, and Skype. Oh, and…Hulu is FIERCE! Who needs to pay for cable when you’ve got your favorite shows right there on the ‘net? *I would throw in a plug for my favorite site to watch leaked movies, but I’ll keep that one to myself.*
I think more than anything to me, this decade has bore witness to my personal development. I’ve been a first hand witness to just how amazing God is. At the start of 2000, I was fired was a lousy job where I was caught stealing (by all things fair, I should have been sitting in a jail cell for the stunts I pulled). I was an aimless slacker; contemplating dropping out of college, living in my parents’ basement, with no clue on what I wanted to do with my life. Meanwhile, ten years later: I’m sitting on several degrees and working on a doctorate. Along with that, I’ve been blessed with an amazing job at a nationally-recognized University. Along this walk, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with great people who have been pivitol in my development.
I’ve also learned that tragedy can bring out the best in people; and the last decade provided us with numerous opportunities to put that to test. I remember the feeling of togetherness I had with other students on campus as we watched the Towers fall. I remember the impromtu clothing drive some classmates and I put together while I was in grad school (we all decided to go to Steve and Barry’s as they were closing, buy a bunch of stuff, and distribute it to homeless people in Flint), I remember each of the three times I’ve been to the Gulf Coast as a volunteer since Katrina (New Orleans twice and Mississippi once); listening to the stories, sharing in the hugs and laughs, and putting in the work to rebuild. While nothing was done to singlehandedly resolve any of the aforementioned tragedies, just being there and sharing in the experience was like nothing I could ever imagine.
As far as relationships go, this decade has also provided new and interesting developments. My parents have gone from having a 25-year marriage to a nasty divorce to a reasonably amicable friendship. I’ve experienced a love-hate-love relationship with my father that I never thought I’d see again. In the early 2000′s, the two of us had a major fallout from which I thought reconciliation was impossible. Meanwhile, at the dawn of the new decade, my relationship with him is better than it’s ever been. For the first time in my life, I feel like he is finally seeing me as an adult. For men, there isn’t much that is as fulfilling. My mother and I have pretty much sustained the same solid relationship over the years; though time and years have magnified things some, I think. My siblings have made incredible transitions over the decade this year; which have drawn both my envy and my admiration. Whether it’s geographical shifts, changes in careers, getting married/working though divorces, or starting families, they’ve made changes that I’m sure they could have never forseen in 2000. In fact, two of my siblings have made me a uncle in recent years (What’s up Landon and Zee!)! It’s my prayer that I will be a good uncle to them; somebody to make them proud.
Things have been pretty sketchy and suspect for me in the dating scene over the past ten years. I’ve had more than my fair share of dating mishaps this decade; enough perhaps to write an entire 10 book saga on my misadventures (if anybody wants to get down, I can also sell the rights for a movie. I think Denzel should play me). All that notwithstanding, I’ll do all I can to keep my history from deterring me. But at the same time, I’ve grown increasing aware of the things that need to happen in my life before I even consider investing my time in seeking a mate. Only time will tell how all that goes.
One thing that has remained somewhat consistent over the years is my walk with God. Actually, I take that back. After all, I’ve always maintained that if your life in God hasn’t changed (read: matured), you’re not doing something right. I wouldn’t say that my relationship with God has improved; per se…after all, I still suck at being a Christian. But I do believe my walk has taken me to a different and perhaps a better place. I walked away from organized religion; as I haven’t held membership at a church in over three years (honestly, I’m missing it less and less each day). But at the same time, I’ve taken several introversive looks at myself, my faith and my understanding of God in the world. I can boastfully announce that I’ve broken away from a lot of fundamentalist and stagnant thinking from being at church (small c); but at the same time, I also regrettably admitted that I haven’t been exposed to solid teaching in the Word; nor have I been as committed to “fellowship amongst the saints (big c).” But for now at least, that’s a dichotomy I can live with.
I’ve written way more than I planned to: but not nearly enough to capture everything that went down this decade. But I’ll leave you with this: I use my own life as an undeniable testament to just how uncertain life is and just how God can deliver in your life if you allow Him to. If God could allow a bum like me to experience what I have up to this point, there is hope for ANYBODY! I guess it’s simply a matter of opening up your eyes to opportunities in front of you and appreciating life as it is presented. Enjoy the pleasant amenities of life and embrace the hardships you experience as an opportunity to grow.
I would like to wish you all peace, happiness, and prosperity for the next year; and for the years beyond. Keep in mind that you’re adding pages to history whether you know it or not. I’m interested to see what kind of things we’ll be talking about on December 31, 2019.
See ya next year!