Last night I was sitting at my dining room table in the house I had purchased with my partner this past June, writing longhand with a fountain pen on a legal pad. David Bowie’s Hunky Dory was spinning on the stereo. The Christmas Tree in the corner was lit with those old style multi-colored bulbs you don’t really see any more. The whole room smelled of pine. In the dining room the overhead light filled the entire room with brightness, while the living room was flooded with darkness, lit only by the soft light of the Christmas Tree. Outside it was winter. It had snowed earlier and it was dark and bitterly cold, but there was no wind, and the whole world felt still, at peace, quiet. My sidewalk was neatly shoveled. Cars crunched in the snow as they drove past. And in the corner sleeping in his pack and play was my seven week old son, Louis.
Long time readers of this blog know that I suffered through a dark period these last few years. Divorce, depression, loss. Plus, of course, all of the other things we as a planet have gone through since March of 2020. The hallmark of my depression was the piercing, ever present belief that it was going to last forever. That fact that it was infinite was never in doubt, not for a second. I would feel like crap forever. Intellectually, I understood that that was not true, but in my heart and my gut I knew it to be otherwise.
Obviously, I was wrong. For while I still slip back and forth into darkness from the light, I am mostly out of the shadows now. I go through entire weeks without thinking about how terrible I feel. I speak about the depression in the past tense. Intrusive thoughts still exist — especially around the holidays — but they don’t stick. They slide right off of my back. For brief seconds, I cannot help but think to myself: here we go again, I am going to feel awful for a long time now. But almost as soon as the thought itself is formed, the feeling is whisked away. And I move on.
I am doing better. I am better. I made it to the other side; a side that I didn’t even believe existed for a very long time.
On that legal pad I was writing part of the ongoing letter to my son. I was telling him about winter. How it was upon us, and how it was just getting started. Bitter cold, terrible snow, darkness. Winters in Minnesota are just plain awful, I told him, in so many words, and pretty soon you will know this too.
And then I thought to myself — I wonder if he will live in Minnesota as an adult? Or will he depart to a warmer climate somewhere? San Diego, or Mexico City, or El Paso. Or maybe somewhere even farther flung? Paris, Monaco, Tokyo. Maybe he will still have winters but they will be different winters in a very different place? He’s only seven weeks old. His entire life is ahead of him. He could end up living just about anywhere. Right here in St. Paul or anywhere else on the globe.
But then I thought to myself: heck, so could I.
This is when I took stock as described in the first paragraph of this post. I looked around and I realized just how much my life had changed, and therefore would continue to change. Five years ago was December of 2016. My life was so different then that it’s hard to even believe it was reality. And my life now would seem like another planet to the me of five years ago. And so what could the next five years bring? They could bring anything, just about anything. My life in December of 2026 might look more or less like it does now, or it might completely different. Night to my day. No matter what, it will shock me in how different it is compared to my life today, and when compared to how I expected it to be.
Life is change. It is relentless and it is constant. Sometimes it is sweeping and other times subtle. Our lives tumble along and, God willing, we tumble along right alongside them. We go where each day takes us, and where each year takes us, and where each decade takes us. Life is, in many ways, very predictable. Each day, the sun comes up, we go to work, we go to meetings, we come home. There are meals and coffees and a few laughs. Then the sun sets, and it starts all over again. But each day is subtly different, and those differences accumulate. And then there are days that are not-so-subtly different, and those days pile on to the differences that already exist. Then one day you look around at your life and it is unrecognizable. And then you look again and you realize you are happy. And you wonder not how long it will last as you might have before, but instead you simply sit in awe at the idea of happiness being something that even exists, when for so many years, maybe your whole life, you assumed it was a myth. Not just happiness but appreciation for that happiness. Which is to say: contentment. Blessed contentment.
Our lives are but chalk on blackboards. Erased and rewritten with each passing minute. We don’t notice it, but it’s happening as sure as the earth beneath our feet is spinning. Yes, Louie could up end up living just about anywhere, but so could I. Minnesota winters might be in my rearview mirror come 2026. My whole world could change. Five years ago I was living an entirely different life. Now there is happiness. I would never in a million years have bet on that horse in December of 2016. But here we are.
Change is all that is guaranteed to us. Good or bad, it is a promise that is delivered upon, day in and day out. Five years from now my life might look more or less the same, but the differences from this moment right now, here, as I type in the basement of my house, will be monumental. There is no doubt in my mind. It’s thrilling. And a reminder to hang on as tight as I can to the happiness that surrounds me: my partner, my son. To keep them close. Take them with me as the change rumbles toward us. And it’s a reminder to all those that are struggling: it gets better. Your life will change. Just hang in there. Get to the other side. Trust me, it exists. It really does.
And so to answer the question that serves as the title of this post, a question posed by Jonathon Liew in the Guardian:
Will England ever be good at Test cricket again?
Of course they will.
I haven’t a single doubt.