DIANE URBANI DE LA PAZ: Epiphanies: They’re in there

TODAY IS EPIPHANY, aka Three Kings Day. On the Christian calendar, Jan. 6 is when the Magi discovered the baby Jesus had been born, and brought him gold, frankincense and myrrh.

A couple of winters ago, I got to watch this holiday celebrated in Cadiz, Spain: Everyone saves up their gifts, thus stretching out the Christmas season another week and a half.

But this column isn’t about holidays.

Instead, I’m after the idea of epiphany: a realization, a gift that appears out of nowhere.

2020 dealt us a lot of suffering and injustice — but it was also a year rich in new realizations.

One of my epiphanies: Learning I can be at home, with no prospects whatsoever of travel outside the city limits — and feel all right. Better than all right; downright peaceful.

Talk about a shocking realization for one who, for decades, had relentlessly itchy feet.

My wise woman friend, Buzzy Donahue of Port Townsend, shared her own epiphany with me, describing it with her typical wry eloquence.

“For me, 2020 was the year I grew up,” she began.

“That sounds weird coming from someone who is 70 years old, but that is how I feel.

“For too long, I let other people make the choices that would affect me,” and put up with lousy stuff, thinking there was nothing to be done about it.

“I was wrong,” Buzzy told me.

“I have found my voice, which is my power to help make my country and the world a better place for all of us.

“2020 was my year of Awareness,” — she capitalized the word for emphasis — “to the challenges we face as a nation, from climate change to racism.

“2020 was the year I realized how my carbon footprint contributes to climate change, and how I can make a difference in saving the planet by my actions.

“Simply not jumping in the car every time I want something saves resources. How much stuff do I really need? My buying habits have changed. What companies I give my money to has become important.

“That is my power.

“Climate change is a huge issue for me. Nothing really matters if we don’t save the planet.”

Buzzy said this on the same day I learned about the “Taming Bigfoot 2021” challenge, a contest for people who want to reduce their carbon footprints.

The Local 20/20 group in Jefferson County tried this five years ago and enjoyed success beyond expectations, so here they go again, signing people up at L2020.org.

You can assemble a team or register as an individual to be added to one; either way, this is a chance to learn about ways to live more lightly on Mama Earth.

In addition to such organized events, I believe in “looking deeply,” as Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh would say, for epiphanies that arise in my own household.

There’s more time for this now.

Buzzy, having gotten fully warmed up on the topic, continued her reflection on the past year.

“I believe we all have purpose — and there is nothing more powerful than that,” she said.

“I want to encourage everyone, no matter what your age, to find your joy and purpose, and be of service. It’s never too late.”

Buzzy lost a job in 2020 and spent much of the past 10 months by herself, either at home or volunteering at KPTZ.

In her radio shows, she plays Rock’N’Roll, keeps people company and, now and then, urges us to look deeply.

This past year, she said, has been one of self-examination.

Embarking on her eighth decade, she discovered just how resilient she is.

“Now,” Buzzy quipped, “if I can just lose those COVID pounds.”


Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.

Her column appears on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. The next one will run Jan. 20.

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