I don't know about you guys...but I had a great 2021. And I write that with no sense of cynicism, sarcasm, anger, or even resentment. To me, no year has never been perfect as we often tend to see it all through a global scale and often neglect the personal, smaller side of things that contribute to our life stories. Yes, 2020 reigns as one of the worst because it was a year that forced us to become one as we saw our inept leaders struggle to control a dangerous pandemic because of political biases, we saw a rise in hate crimes towards marginalized communities, and overall, it made us all see how vulnerable we truly are in the end despite being a highly functional, privileged society. And yet as the smoke begins to clear on the fire that was 2020 into 2021, we still had many fires raging on a social and global level; the pandemic was still going around thanks to variants emerging due to the slow adoption rate of vaccines in some countries, hate crimes were still prevalent, and political tensions were more than prevalent (especially in January 6th). But despite that, there was a sense of bittersweet health recovery in that many of the things we took for granted slowly came back, despite restrictions. There were improvements all around the world, and many just felt some sort of relief after 2020. But you wouldn't know that if you were to just stay at home, watch the news 24/7, and read social media as they all paint a sort of "End of Times" mindset that at times comes off as fear mongering for the sake of clicks, ratings, and viewership. After all, it has been proven than in 2020 many companies and media outlets made record-breaking profit numbers because if they could keep an audience locked inside and make them watch your content, they will become accustomed to the mindset it presents. I like to reflect on the year through my own personal lens; yes, I still keep in mind all the good and bad that happened and what kind of impact it has had on me and my fellow human beings. But to relegate all of MY life to everything that happened globally and ignore all the good and bad that happened to my own world is to neglect the growth I had gained. There were many great things that happened to me in 2021 in spite of what has happened globally...and in spite of the major loss that happened to me in late summer. In 2021, I was able to discover new friends as well as re-connect with older ones once restrictions began to lift, entertainment wise I discovered a lot of new stories and characters to love, such as Arlo the Alligator Boy, the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Long the Wish Dragon and many more. I saw a nostalgic comfort character make a grand entrance to Super Smash Bros Ultimate in Sora from Kingdom Hearts, and career wise I have been able to maintain a healthy set of hours with new opportunities of career growth being given to me by the end of the year which I am more than proud of. If we are speaking furry, the return of conventions, specifically Megaplex 2021, made it for a grand homecoming where I could unleash all the pent-up energy and have fun with my fellow fuzzbutts. This leads to one of my own biggest personal tragedies of 2021; the death of my father due to COVID. Both of my parents being in the hospital due to COVID and not knowing what their fates would be was something that shattered my heart and soul, and while mom was able to recover and return home...dad never came back. Prior to his passing, I had suffered so much sleepless nights, so much stress and anxiety, and so much loneliness that I gave up on me and just wanted to end it all. His passing and my grief was a very complex, layered one that I had to take steps in surpassing as best as I could because once my father was cremated and mom was being treated for post-COVID...life had to go on. That's one very bittersweet thing about life; it continues even when you are hurt. You have to put on a brave face and continue living. I understood this reality and took great strengths in taking grieving counseling and therapy to slowly and eventually accept the death of my father. And even with that tragedy being a significant part of my year, it showed me how amazingly kind people can be. One would be led to believe that people have stopped all sense of compassion to pursue selfish needs, but I saw this year how people came to our aid when we most needed them as the cost of cremating my father and staying afloat as I returned to work made it hard to adapt. People without asking any questions helped me afford rent, pay the cremation bills, get mom her medication, and have food to eat. I was moved as I saw that people saw in me a heart worth loving and caring for and assured me that even in some decided to turn my loss into their own personal show many just showed their compassion. Outside of my own life, I saw many people live their best lives; many bought homes, started families, got engaged, got married, saw new career opportunities rightfully be given to them, re-connected with old friends and family, and most importantly, used what they had learned in 2020 to become a better member of society beyond just performative activism. These are things still worth celebrating because once more in a less than ideal social climate people still saw the opportunity to grow, be happy, and celebrate life. But once again, you would be led to think otherwise if all you do is watch the news or just stay on social media. It's ironic how now more than ever we live in an age where we are the most connected and have so many sources of information it has become such an echo chamber where similar ideas were only welcomed and rooms for discussions nearly became a thing of the past. You would think that this new sense of broad scopes would help people understand that life is not black and white and that the only way we can survive, and grow is to listen and get to know each other. But instead it kinda has created self-contained bubbles that want you to think like them, have the same opinions, the same thoughts or otherwise suffer widespread "cancellation" and face the "outrage" of people. That's why I decided to ignore all of that and judge my year through my own lens; seeing the triumphs both big and small, see the tragedies that went on to help understand the complexities of society, and learn from the tragedies I faced to help me path my own future. It's honestly easier said than done because on a personal level some people can't surpass their own tragedies, and some will see the whole state of the world as a litmus-test of their own self-worth. But it can be done because no matter what happens, life goes on and on, and you either got to pick yourself up when down, or stay forever down.