In the last couple of years, these blogs have been exercises in thorough research and reflectiveness. Isn’t that what the end of the year should mark, anyways? A sense that we’re going to take a few hours and commemorate the last 365 days by remembering what the hell just happened and wash it away with a little alcohol and the energy of any group willing to share in this purging activity. Unfortunately, we never get the opportunity to carry that ebullience into the new year. Like our new year’s resolutions, we get on the treadmill for the first couple of weeks only to realize that running in place doesn’t help us with actually running away from the lessons we should have learned the previous years.
For instance, when 2009 ended, we entered 2010 hoping we’d be able to convert our bad fortunes into good stock the very next week. It started working until the tragedy in Haiti erupted. My ancestors yelled out to the world and the average person responded through donations to non-governmental organizations and pleas to our governments to help out the people in front of that camera. A few months later, we find that not only did our monies not arrive to the people most affected by this disaster, the Haitian people are struggling like never before with afflictions we only thought we’d find in fiction books and quaint articles in the New York Times.
One thing that 2010 thought me, in spite of my own Nietzschian tendencies, is that there are enough of us that care about the collective but even when our egos aren’t cooperating with our ideals. Major news stations ran their stories 24 / 7, but people tapped into the word of mouth and vigilante research of the collective through social media venues. Activists found validity in the written word in their asynchronous conversations all over the world and built bridges of information via old guard of books, magazines, and newspapers, venues presumed dead by the avant-garde. Many of us are marching towards appreciating independence of control while strengthening the infrastructure of government, a formula that seems to work in countries that work.
While traveling to places in Washington DC, San Diego, Orlando, Atlanta, Santo Domingo, and Miami, I found myself reflecting more on groups than individuals. The death of Jaime Escalante revealed how even one man couldn’t get a whole system to change a school system, even as he influenced many Latino and non-Latinos to pursue a career in education. Songs like Kanye West’s “Power,” Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” and 30 Seconds to Mars’ “Kings and Queens” were built with an audience in mind, not simply the kind that plays the song on their devices, but the kind that want to see the artist perform it in front of thousands of people simultaneously. Writers and artists freely gave glimpses into their craft and drafts on a regular basis, a nod to their fan bases. We concurrently expressed frustration and exaltation at our republic, one that would have Barack Obama the people’s champion turn into Barack Obama the over-negotiator, but one that would allow Sen. Bernie Sanders the Vermont socialist speak for close to 9 hours on the afflictions of the average American.
Despite the polygamous and corrupt tendencies of some of our most high profile citizens, I witnessed the rebuilding of this idea of commitment. Personally, none of the goals I accomplished happen without the support of my friends and family. I saw many of my friends get engaged, married, and have children, debunking even their own premonitions about starting families. I got to meet some of the great individuals who had always been part of my network and introduced many more into my intelligence web, and within those individuals, I’ve found a sense of resolve and passion that I appreciate, two qualities any group can never get enough of. Whether it was at TEDxNYED or the New York City Marathon, each of us may have been there for a few individuals, but as cheerleaders of ideas and purveyors of triumph, we got plenty of examples on pushing oneself to the limit.
My most critical moment this year wasn’t even anything of my doing. It was the last day of school last academic year, when I got to read a poem to my class. In retrospect, it’s never going to get better than that, and I know it. That day was just the way I would have wanted to end the year, in buckets and rivers of tears of my face and each of them joyful and thankful.
I went through serious growing pains, too. Missed celebrations, deaths and near-deaths within the family, stress accumulated from becoming a full-grown adult, and the travails of the classroom politic. However, in all those experiences, I was granted the opportunity to turn regret into evolution. Fucking up is one thing; seeking redemption in the face of it makes fucking up almost worth it.
This is it. 2010, thank you. 2011, what will you bring?
Jose, who’s counting down with all of you …