Joshua Paul Downs takes us through the ups and downs of his 2014 with a remarkable blend of self-awareness and grace.
I do not at all understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.
A little more than a year ago, New Year’s Eve 2013, I got a last-minute job with a SharkTank winning company to manage 25 people at the electronic coat check of an epic secret Brooklyn rave/concert/trip (sketchy, yes, but they offered me $600). We ended up being shut down by the FBI (the party’s producer was wanted for international tax evasion), thoroughly frisked, and aggressively interrogated. After firing 15 of my staff on the spot, I ended up managing 5000 coats of NYC’s elitist nightlife in Manhattan and got home at 10am, soaked in champagne and sweat. That began 2014.
That was the year I tried tofu for the first time. That was the year I learned about the lives of homeless people and billionaires on the same commute. That was the year I learned how to be alone with myself. That was the year I found inner-peace. That was the year I found my voice and worked to perfect the art of sharing it. That was the first year I saw the infinite possibilities of every single moment.
That was the year I learned to not let people take advantage of me and to protect myself as much as I try to protect others. That was the year I fought for what I believed was right even when people told me not to. That was the year I acquired sustainable employment in my craft and felt vocationally validated for the first time. That was the year I fought for respect and when I failed, I fought harder.
That was the year my friend Ben died and I watched his funeral alone on the fire escape of my studio apartment, overlooking the Hudson river. That was the year I questioned life’s purpose. That was the year my Uncle Billy died, and I FaceTime’d the service from my piano bench. That was the year I reconciled my duty to family with my duty to myself. That was the year my Grandma Beulah died. That was the year I said goodbye to someone I felt knew me more than anyone.
That was the year I tried dating and grew to know myself enough to share him. That was the year I tried to always trust first, and learn lessons about people as they come, rather than assuming distrust. That was the year I decided that I would start over every day, that every interaction would have a hello and a goodbye, that things shouldn’t go unspoken, and that regret is not an option. That was the year I found confidence.
That was the year I toured. That was the year I had lobster in Maine and Catfish in Louisiana in the same month. That was the year I learned to fall in love with people as people again. That was the year that every second was an adventure and every corner was sharp.
I sincerely dread the year that isn’t harder than the last. I would say this one was the hardest, and I sincerely hope that the next one will be too.
To learning and growing and dancing and loving, meatballs and Matza balls, funerals and weddings. To Netflix, HuffPost, connection and goodbyes. So long, 2014, you feisty bitch. You will certainly be remembered.
This post originally appeared on Joshua’s Facebook page.
A video of Joshua singing in the New York City subway was featured on The Good Men Project last year.
Photo—Thomas G. Fiffer