Preparing My Sweet ’16
Written by Stephanie Renee on January 10, 2016
The holidays were short this go ’round. With Christmas and New Year’s both falling on Fridays, the best we full-time WURDies could muster without taking too much vacation time were the three-day weekends. So I have no gorgeous seaside or mountain landscape photos to share. No frequent flyer or highway miles rewards to cash in. Just gratefulness for a few extra moments to play with my puppy, do some decluttering and bask in the company of loved ones, either in person or online.
The pic that accompanies this blog was posted by the indomitable filmmaker Ava DuVernay. I don’t think any of us would argue that 2015 was a year when her talent and her love for all people was on constant display. I claimed Ava as one of my girl crushes ages before the Golden Globe nomination or she became my Soror, so I feel even prouder of all of the accomplishments she’s amassed in the past year. You’ve got to cheer when the for real, ride-or-die folks find solid footing without compromising their core. And when they speak, you probably want to turn down the worldly noise and tune in.
Bright and early on New Year’s Day, Ava posted a photo on Instagram and Facebook with arms outstretched, strolling down a hill in Hawaii. And in the caption, she claimed 2016 as Sweet ’16. For many people, 2015 was emotionally and physically taxing. So much racist rhetoric. So much death and destruction. So much financial despair. But in the midst of the madness, Ava managed to craft together a string of long overdue, enviable successes. And even from the rarefied air of that pedestal, she reached down and back to bring others along. So when she says that we must positively project the idea of creating a Sweet ’16 from the first hours of the first day of the year, I listen. I absorb. I agree.
I also remembered a conversation I had back around 2007 with another one of my immensely-talented friends. As the economy was already beginning to show signs of what is now known as The Great Recession, he and I were feeling pretty financially flush and professionally accomplished. And guilty. Where we eventually landed is that we should take nothing for granted, that our momentum should be a learning experience and that there is no great nobility in suffering. Invest. Give back. Learn. And grow. Little did I know how much I would need to rely on those very lessons when a few months later my entire professional landscape was in disarray. But here I am, still standing. Still pushing.
So Ava’s advice is sage, familia. Set the stage for the life you intend to lead at every available opportunity. Project the humanity that you want to see in society, as emphatically and often as you can. Restore. Renew. Let past setbacks propel you forward, but not weigh you down. You have no idea what miracles may surface just over the next hill. And how glorious it will feel when you get to stroll down the other side.
Let’s all do our best to make it a Sweet ’16.