By J.D. Altamirano
Nostalgia ruins conversations. Practiced conversationalists actively avoid reliving banal experiences with episodic retellings of misadventures past. This well known truism informs how many of us see ourselves – refined, topical, and engaging. But the temptation of casting ourselves as the hero of all of our stories unfailingly prevails upon us so that certain confused and aging associations can continue. After all, routines are comforting and, we are told, conducive to success. To a point, however, they create in us a shortsighted and one-dimensional persona.
But 2022 will not be about fixing any of that, so relax. Our power mad decision makers have gone buckwild to the point that a lot of us are learning how elections work and why term limits matter. But 2022 will not be about fixing any of that, so relax. Instead, a brief and clumsy foray into unpopular metaphysical concepts.
Continuums. You know, those expanses outside of space and time made up of all the ideas we have no time to think about? They do nothing for us in real space, but they can be handy in the refabrication of a worldview overworked by trauma. Our reactions to the differences in one another physically and philosophically have become fixed, reflexive, and disturbingly pathological. In previous eras, public discourse existed on a continuum where a variety of lively debates on universal subjects stimulated and enriched us.
See? I could not make it through one paragraph without getting nostalgic, and surely would have gone on to position myself as the sage adviser. Forget continuums, this is about getting grounded in 2022, really feeling ourselves solidly and confidently as ourselves in a space of our own creation.
Before I get to that, though, what a bunch of frauds we are. I mean it. We spend all day every day calling the world disingenuous on the authority of our own wisdom and hyper-authenticity. While facing this fact might cost us a moment or two of self-doubt and unease, our work would scarcely suffer. In fact, a healthy acquaintance with our inner con-artist in a world full of charlatans can only help.
I’m a pro at this (sure, let’s go with that), so I had a full outline for this essay. Themes included acceptance and selflessness punctuated by ceaseless appreciation for health, hearth, and home. But readers in 2022 don’t need another series of greeting card verses stitched together. Many of us are sadder, fatter, more frustrated, and alienated than ever seemed possible. Our wrecked metabolisms and whipsawed morale are crying out for ownership and answers, not flowery dead letters from strange pens.
2022 is the year for abandoning our romance with the past. Our razor thin confidence and fragmented routines simply don’t have the tolerance. Going about like bandits in a bad Western while watching the world tear its raiment and wail with grief has us all fairly sick of these dramas. Powerful emotional hangovers are going to paralyze a good portion of this nation, but not me – and not you, either. You have learned that your agency can be shut out like a light.
Time has no champion but itself and I resolve to stop fighting time. In trying to master its dispassionate radiance I have found only grief, doubt, and exhaustion. Most materials harvested from nature we repurpose to counter the effects of nature. From the fig leaf to the bulletproof vest, our admission of insecurity and anxiety has been clear. The cosmetic, surgical, and pharmaceutical marketing ploys claiming they have conquered this unease are everywhere. Fortunately, time exposes the huckster and shames the fool. It is the gatekeeper of all things, that rare and ready confluence of tyrant and provider. Maybe in 2022 we can all take lessons from time and benevolently conduct our little empires focusing more on our needs and less on our dreams.
2021 has had its day in court and been found guilty and we will steal from it the lessons of austerity, restraint, and forward thinking that villain tried to take. Meditating on our choices and desires will allow us to break ourselves down to our least troublesome state and in the simplest of terms. If we seize upon the most human of urges, cultivation and preservation, we can restore our minds to their elastic and open state. 2022 will be about that.