I’ve not written any of the normal observations about the new year that I have in the past. I didn’t want to spend too much time dwelling on 2023. It’s been a struggle. Every time I think it won’t be, something else comes up and bites us. And then, yesterday, my wife and I decided to take advantage of the last day of 2023, a sunny, somewhat warm day, and spend some time in nature.
It was a great idea. We drove down to Terrebonne Parish, near the Gulf of Mexico, looking for wildlife, birds, and pretty scenery. At our first stop, that’s exactly what we got. We took a lovely nature trail out to a boardwalk overlook. You can see the view above. There was a bit of a morning chill, but we dressed appropriately, saw lots of birds and even had an egret in the walking path so focused on his next meal that we could walk almost right up to it for some good photos.
After a stop for a snack, we headed to our second stop. A Wildlife Management Area that promised some more birds and other wildlife as we walked around. As we exited the car, my wife asked if we should apply bug spray. We decided that wasn’t necessary. There hadn’t been any bugs at the first stop, and it was December, hardly prime bug season. Besides, with my hoodie on, I barely had any exposed skin anyway.
Oh, let me also add that I was only three weeks removed from a positive Covid test and was still coughing regularly.
You know how this ends, right?
How else could it end in 2023?
Yes, there were mosquitos. A lot of mosquitos. They seem to have taken up residence on the back of my hoodie, a great place to ride along and attack the bits of exposed skin, my face, and my neck. Did they make themselves known immediately when it would have been an easy trip back to the car for spray? Not this year. They waited until we walked for 15 minutes before making an appearance.
They bit my face. They bit my neck. My wife swatted 10-15 of them on my back. I swatted a few on my face. She swatted one from my chin. (Have I mentioned that mosquitos love me? She had a few bites, as expected, but they were literally all over me.) As I swatted them away, I knocked my sunglasses sideways on my face. The bites on my face were starting to swell, and we needed to get back to the car to escape with limited lung capacity, thanks to that bout of COVID.
This was the story of 2023 for me. I was sitting in the car, trying to catch my breath, my face swollen, sunglasses no longer completely on my face, lamenting what I should have done differently.
Whether it was being excited to start 2023 in a new role focused on training and onboarding only to be laid off in April, four months of disappointment over and over again as interviews and connections did not lead to a new job, unyielding struggles with anxiety and self-image, constant internal battles over whether anything I write about is worth reading, wishing to just quietly pass away, more changed and canceled plans than I can count, and finally to trip to Ohio to meet with the team I’ve been working remotely with since September that ended with me coming home with COVID, this is what 2023 has looked like.
Like I said earlier, it’s been a struggle. It’s not a year I want to reflect on.
And yet, after all that, my wife and I drove away from the WMA, pulled over at a little park by a bayou, applied copious amounts of bug spray, and were rewarded with pelicans, egrets, and gulls doing their thing close by. And then, there was some more scenic driving before heading home to enjoy a quiet New Year’s Eve at home.
We got attacked, but we were still standing at the end. Maybe a bit worse for wear, but here, and moving forward. So, while I’m not reflecting much these days, I continue trying to keep my focus forward. What I’m doing today might not work out well, but there’s always tomorrow. Another chance to be better, to do better, and to offer whatever help and support that I can to the people in my life and the people who follow me online.
No matter what your year looks like, you have that same opportunity, too. Just don’t forget to apply bug spray in Louisiana, even in December, OK?