We made it to 2021, and the world has not self-destructed, unless, of course, should you be a Notre Dame fan, the year is ending like many others, losing (Alabama 21 – ND 7 at half-time).

As for ‘new,’ you will notice changes to the blog’s appearance. Even though I am likely to ‘check out’ this year, I made a hard decision to keep this blog. Year-to-year, I’ve maintained Unknown Buddhist’ in a WordPress ‘business’ subscription. And was it beneficial? Well, sort of. For me? Nope. For Google? Yup. Three-hundred dollars more per year. Blog changes allowed for several modifications.

Technically speaking, I don’t dance. And advanced video editing under the business subscription was of little value. I also do not have tens of thousands of readers. Therefore, I receive no advertising dollars. And that’s ok, for I don’t want to hawk deep-fried potato chips while discussing anything spiritual. (Unless, of course, one can find spirituality in eating slivers of nuked potatoes.) I don’t have any social media accounts. I don’t have Twitter; therefore, no tweets. At one point, I think the blog connected to Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter. But I never maintained the links. Thus, if the blog still connects, anyone is welcomed to call me out. Last, I’ve added a ‘Feature Categories’ column to the left side of the home page. If chosen, you can read the last several posts from three chosen categories: Faith and Doubt, Life Lessons, Parkinson’s.

The new layout will be the most cost-effective option while simultaneously maintaining navigational simplicity. I hope the color scheme is easier to read while retaining key functionality most readers use: Archives and Categories. (Both of which are drop-down boxes.) Posts now have a ‘Read More’ button, so one has to read the entire post before reading previous posts. I will probably make additional changes, but should I pass-on, I hope these changes prove to be a definite trade-off for readers over the next year or two.

When I started this blog, I vowed to be honest about my thoughts and Buddhism. Since its inception, while the blog has matured in many ways, I never thought to be discussing tumors, Parkinson’s, or Trump. As you have read, I strived against propping up some persona of myself as perpetually inspiring, psychologically healthy, or wise. If this blog were to become the principal means by which any of you will know my innermost thoughts and feelings post-death, I wanted any reader to see who I was, and more importantly, how I grew over the last nine (9) years. If any were to read all posts thoroughly, you would experience many moments of joy, gratitude, and insight. I did think of re-editing earlier blog posts, but I will keep them as they are since posting them.

As far as dying goes, I am terminal. However, I am not dying (yet). I don’t believe I presented myself with unending positivity or determination. I am just a patient who knows he is terminal. Having lived in pain for 35 years, I am exhausted. I do not want an endless fight to the end. Therefore, I will live as many terminal patients do, one day at a time. To portray me any other way would be disingenuous. I will continue to detail treatments, frustrations, and hidden pain(s). For others suffering likewise, I want them to know they are not alone. I am not afraid to accept death. Some fear it though. And maybe in some way, I can offer a form of hope that this life does not mean the end.

But I refuse to make the first post of 2021 an endless downer. Think 2020 was bad COVID-19 remains merciless. But remember 2019? Many articles declared 2019 exceptionally awful. Dave Barry noted that the “…epicenter of the year’s eventfulness was, of course, Washington, an endlessly erupting scandal volcano, belching out dense, swirling smoke-plumes of spin, rumor, innuendo, misdirection, and lies emitted by both sides.” And dam it, just about everyone wanted 2015 canceled. Motor car buffs whined 2015 was so bad that the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 needed to be avoided … entirely. The truck had a weak structure and was prone to severe problems. And who could forget 2009? Colombian culinary school students concocted a passion-fruit dessert containing Viagra – as in Viagra-laced ice cream. Therefore, we require a new hope. (Ok. I borrowed that from Star Wars.)

And that is what I will make 2021 about. Hope. Over the past day or two, I have seen articles dictating hope for the Stock Market (as if it needs any), astrological hope (should you have the ‘right’ sign), and religious hope (where recent religious converts exclaim God is indeed returning in 2021).

For the rest of us, 2020 was a crushing time when we all hung on. And when there was no life preserver, we treaded. Against the backdrop of persistent suffering and grief, in a year when the COVID-19 pandemic marked everyone’s lives, I hope this blog offers both hope and humor. In doing so, we ca begin to heal from the impact of a deadly virus, heal our broken economy, and maybe, but most importantly, heal divisions.