This newsletter is the latest in a series from Jason Reynolds, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. It was originally published on the Library of Congress blog.
Ahem. Is this thing on? It is? Well …
Happy … New Year.
Here’s the thing: Screaming “Happy New Year” has felt so strange over the last few years because of everything going on. And I’ll be honest with you all: This year, my New Year’s Eve was spent lying on a beanbag in my house alone, binging a Netflix show. It came and went and there was a part of me that felt so exhausted by the last year — the last two years — that I didn’t even have the energy to welcome 2022 with cheer. Well, that’s not the only reason. I think I also have become a bit nervous about being joyous about the new year just because life still seems to be in a strange knot, one that seems to be tightening due to what seems to be an immortal virus. Oof. But on New Year’s Day, I woke up and realized … I woke up. Again. And even though it’s been a complicated time, joy is still not only possible, but … inevitable. It’s coming. Because it has to. And guess why it has to? Guess?
Because I say so.
That’s how it works. We choose it. We go searching for it. We reach for it and hold onto it as tightly as possible. But we have to decide that it’s so.
Know what it reminds me of? Trying to hold water. I know, strange transition, but go with me.
If you’ve ever tried to hold water, you know that it’s such a strange experience because it never actually feels like you’re holding anything. And then when you open your hands, the water drips out and now you’re holding nothing. So the question is, how do we keep water in our hands? Well, we keep it there by trusting it’s actually there. And if we believe it’s there, we just hold it tighter. There’s no need to check and see. There’s no need to doubt it because doubt will leave us empty-handed. That’s what we have to do with joy this year.
It’s there for us. It’s in us and around us and we just have to trust that. Which means as we enter into this new year, and we wish people a Happy New Year, we have to mean it despite our circumstances. We have to trust that the newness of the year guarantees happiness, and that our belief that it belongs to us will make it so that Happy Old Year will be an accurate statement.
So buck up, Buttercup. We’re still here. Laughter still lives in us. Beauty still blossoms around us. Love has never lost and is even more infectious than you-know-what.
I love you, and Happy Happy Happy New Year.
To learn more about Jason Reynolds, who began a historic third year as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature on January 1, check out his Library of Congress Resource Guide. You can also look out for new installments of Jason Reynolds’s GRAB THE MIC Newsletter, now occurring quarterly.
January 12, 2022
Dear Mr. Reynolds:
It is great to hear from you again! Yes, waking up “on this side of the Jordan River”, is the main objective, for which we must all be truly grateful. Unfortunately, the last two years have presented some unprecedented challenges for us, but we have had to endure those – whether we wanted to or not.
So many family members and friends are not as fortunate as we are. We are still alive. Now, what will we do with the gift of life that we still have as a treasure for 2022? Let’s think about the answer to that question.
Thanks for everything!
Rachelle Warren, Ed.D.
P.S. I also want to say thank you for the article you wrote about the way we have become Tide pods for ourselves and others during this pandemic. I used that content for a PSAT/SAT prep essay analysis, and my high school students really enjoyed reading and responding to your concepts. Keep up the good work! All the best to you.