Beauty & Pain

Another year concludes. 2022 seemingly brought every experience imaginable. It made me reflect deeply on the fullness of this journey — its beauty & its pain.

It’s sitting in a beautiful interfaith service and grappling with the persistence of a ruthless pandemic.

It’s witnessing a leaf gently fall from a golden tree, landing on the spot on your clothes where the ash of the sworn-off cigarette appeared the night before.

It’s the second framed law license and the realization that it cost nearly $4,000 more than the previous one.

It’s beholding long, reuniting hugs in a coffeeshop where one viewed a documentary on the past & present devastation of the HIV epidemic.

It’s the joy of a Black boy on the shoulders of his brother and the knowledge of the ubiquitous presence of the police.

It’s the aroma of sweet potato pie, calling forth the memory of a grand love who’s no longer in the picture.

It’s a cute niece in the sky on the night of one’s first election loss.

It’s an animated conversation within the unique orchestra of a brewery, followed by no consistent contact with anyone from the setting a year later.

It’s the warm glow of a candle and a good book in hand — on a couch where myriad tears were shed.

It’s enough money in the bank to address unexpected, small crises — like two flat tires in two weeks.

It’s the excitement of countless individual first dates, yet still waking up alone.

It’s beauty & pain & joy & sorrow & laughter & silence & the possibility of one specific life & the constellation of paths that we call the grand human experience across time.

The tears fall, the glasses clink, the kisses provide warmth, the rejection feels unique, and the energy keeps flowing because of the miracle of your existence.

The life continues. The story steadily unfolds. At birthday celebrations & funerals & weddings & direct actions & at year’s end, one can say: my life is indeed irreplaceable — and it is my own — but other people are integral to my success & sustainability.

I hope that 2022 conveyed the principle that the individual does indeed expand into the universal. May 2023 reinforce that ageless wisdom.

About andrewrhairston

Andrew Reginald Hairston is a civil rights attorney, writer, proud bisexual man, and doting uncle who divides his time almost equally between Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. He loves, fights for, and writes about Black people.
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