From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, friendly neighborhood paragraph stacker, Des Moines, Iowa.
I’ve developed a nervous tic: I grunt.
I mean to hum, but it comes out a grunt. It’s anxiety, I think.
I don’t know how long I’ve been doing it. I’ve hum lyrics to songs. I’ve whistled movie themes.
These days I grunt.
Why? I can’t say.
I’ll blame 2020.
There’s 15 minutes left to the year, so it’s just another thing to attribute to the calendar.
It seems fair. I think I took to grunting during the pandemic while I was unemployed for seven months.
I worried a lot. I perfected my already strong self-loathing skills.
But I also endured.
I demonstrated resilience.
That’s what my therapist says.
2020 was the year of resilience, I think.
A lot of terrible things happened this year: the pandemic, the presidential election and social unrest.
The sadness stacked upon misery and grief.
2020 was a lot.
Getting through every day took more effort than usual.
I used to go to a gym when my mind and body were healthier. I may go again when the pandemic passes.
My trainer, Nate Yoho, used to encourage grunts — even shouts — when exerting energy to accomplish a cardio challenge or set a personal record in weightlifting.
I did not set many personal records in 2020.
But I maintained. I held the line.
I almost cracked.
But I was blessed. Friends and family propped me up. They would not let me fall even when I was ready to collapse.
I won’t try to name them all here. I’ll just say that without all of them, I wouldn’t have made it. They showed faith in me when mine was gone.
I survived pneumonia, unemployment, depression, going back to school and starting a new career. I didn’t do it alone.
It was hard. Damn hard.
Hard enough that I needed to grunt sometimes.
I grunt because my arthritic knees and back hurt.
I grunt as a nervous habit. (I’m trying to stop that so as not to become a greater annoyance to my new coworkers.)
I started grunting in 2020. It was a hard year and it required exertion.
I’ll probably grunt plenty in 2021.
Life is work. Damn hard work.
It requires a little grunting.
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