The Annual Transition: Looking Back Through 2016
It’s that time when everyone is doing year-end wrap-ups and I honestly don’t know where to even start.
So much has happened this past year that I can barely wrap my mind around it all. Some people I know are calling it one of the worst years to date, and while I definitely had my train wreck moments, it has somehow brought me a contradicting sense of peace and fire-y ferocity within myself.
In my personal life, this year has been a wondrous life-changer. Getting married not just once, but three times (because of our two vastly different yet complimenting cultures) definitely started my new life with M with quite the bang. We rode the high of wedding number one into number two and into a slightly-more-stressful-but-still-amazing number three, creating a string of pure joy in discovering what it means to be married- so far anyway. It is an adventure I did not exactly expect to have, but has been an incredible surprise at every turn.
In between all of the wedding hoopla I can’t really believe that I had time for much else, but somewhere in there I danced a solo in a performance tour around northern Morocco, choreographed a quartet for an art festival through the French Institute of Tangier, moved into a spanking new apartment with M and furnished it from scratch, did my first gig as a body double in a major mini-series filmed in the Sahara desert, took a dance intensive in Amsterdam and classes in Madrid, wrote a sort-of-novel in a month, taught daily dance, barre and yoga classes, and started this very blog. Wow.
It was not what I would call a peaceful year, but somehow the fatefulness and alignment of a lot of the things that happened brought a what-will-be-will-be kind of inner peace that flowed me through 2016, with some unexpected (and sometimes very expected) hiccups of anxiety along the way.
The ferocity, on the other hand, was planted after the biggest hiccup of all, the election that singlehandedly slapped away every time I have ever said “I am so not interested in politics.” That day along with the growing awakening to the fact that something needs to be done about the world we live in, have seriously inspired me for the coming year. I feel motivated in a way that I never felt before.
I have heard from many people, artists especially, that they feel like art and having a creative career are no longer relevant things. They don't matter anymore in comparison to the catastrophe of the U.S election and all of the war and violence being waged around the world. As valid as those feelings and emotions may be, I believe this year has shown that art is more necessary and relevant than ever.
I want to make things that matter. I am more inspired than ever to try to use art to give voices to people that need to be heard, because the voices we are hearing loudly these days are doing nothing but anger and depress us. We need louder rumblings of the hopeful, of the generous, of the pulsing heart that still exists in human kind. Art can give voices to these kind of people.
I saw a talk while I was home in Minneapolis called Big Ideas: Words for Change at the Loft Literary Center and one of the panelists, Téa Rozman Clark, said at one point “Share the information you want to hear.” This has stuck with me as a sort of mantra as I start to brainstorm not only new dance ideas, but new writing and even posts for this blog. If I am not satisfied with the information being fed to us in the news, in the headlines, in the pessimistic rhetoric that appears even on facebook, then I should just create the kind of information I would like to be hearing. I personally think we need to hear more words of hope. Discover more faith in each other. In Krista Tippett's latest book, Becoming Wise, she defines hope in a way that I believe everyone needs to hold on to, writing that it is "distinct from optimism or idealism. It has nothing to do with wishing. It references reality at every turn and reveres truth." This is exactly the type of hope I would like to see even more of- the kind that can illuminate the good that I know for a fact still exists.
That, I suppose, is a long-winded way of explaining one of my many resolutions for the new year, but for the moment this is where I am looking back, trying to just relish in the delightful moments from 2016 and using the less-delightful to push me into an active 2017.
I wanted to share, to finish, just a slightly-scattered list of the things that have been my rocks of inspiration over the past year. Maybe we can glean some things to bring into the next:
-Every single On Being podcast episode ever. But especially these: Craig Minowa on Music and the Ritual of Performance, Alain de Botton- A School of Life for Atheists, Krista Tippett and Pico Iyer on The Mystery and Art of Living, and Naomi Shihab Nye: Your Life is a Poem.
-On that note, I referenced it above and I’m only in the beginning chapters, but I can already tell I'm going to love Krista Tippet’s book Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living.
-Agnes Obel’s new album this year, Citizen of Glass. I listened to Familiar on repeat for at least two months straight.
-Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I referenced in my very first post not so long ago. I go back to this book every time I start to question my artistic integrity and remind myself what it means to be creative. It is a topic I have explored pretty frequently in 2016.
-The epic return of the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life because god did we need some comfort and wit at that point in the year.
-I suppose their big single actually dropped in 2015, but I just discovered the girl group A-WA this year and watched their music videos obsessively.
-This was the year I attempted to learn a 4th language- Spanish. Basically the furthest I got was binge-watching Gran Hotel and calling it studying, but seriously that ended up being one of my favorite shows that I discovered in 2016 to fill the hole Downton Abbey left at the end of 2015.
-Sia killed it again with her modern-dance music videos this year. The Greatest in particular was the greatest in a haunting and beautiful way, plus the catchy song became my anthem for a while.
-Agnes's Cashew Kitchen love letters which I always love finding in my inbox each week. Filled with authentic thoughts and quiet inspiration.
-Discovering edX as an amazing online course platform. During the summer I took an incredibly thought-provoking Harvard course titled Islam Through Its Scriptures that I am still looking back to and frequently referencing. The possibilities with online self-education these days are mind-boggling and I can't wait to delve into it more in the next year.
Happy New Year, everyone! We have made it through, and to start out the next year on the right foot I’ll be sharing with you some of my own reflections, wishes, and inspirations for 2017 very soon. xo