It has become a personal tradition that on the eve of each new year I write something reflecting on the one I am leaving behind. The interesting exercise is not necessarily in writing them but in revisiting them a year, or years, later. They string together like lampposts, illuminating a bit of the history surrounding them along the way - a new job, a break up, a muddled symphony of desire and fear. They are full of longing to see the light ahead. Above all, they are hopeful.
It’s a strange thing – when I started thinking about writing this, I was going to join the ongoing discourse of ‘why 2016 was a terrible year.’ I even mentioned it to someone who, I assumed, like most people would say emphatically, ‘I know.’ Instead, he asked me to tell him ‘why.’ And so I rambled on about the loss of creative lives, the state of American politics, a few personal speed bumps, etc. etc. and slowly my argument unraveled. Not because any of those things weren’t true, but because they were, and talking about them didn’t seem to make it better or worse. When I looked back on my post from the close of 2015, I had quipped at the time, “I’m going to be selfish for a moment and tell you that 2015 was hard for me. To put it more eloquently, 2015 was complete and utter shit.” It seemed selfish to go back to those sentiments again.
So I went back further. My friend had pushed me out of my head, the banality of blaming 2016 for its happenings, and made me reflect harder on what defines a year. Pain, hurt, suffering – these are just the cost of living. They sit at the fringes of experience. If they overshadowed love, happiness and hope, we wouldn’t exist. We wouldn’t evolve. We wouldn’t even care.
After 5 years of reflection and posts that spanned my personal history, I made my way back to 2011 where something I told myself once seemed to resonate again,
We could sit here and tell each other what a long year it has been. We could talk about the things we regret, the people we lost, memories we made and places we went – the moments we remember being truly happy. We could line all these things up together and try and measure if it was a year of losses or gains, and then determine how we could avoid all our pitfalls in the new year.
But life, thankfully, is not a stock market. There are no years we are set back or we just break even. We have gained experiences, good and bad, and we are all around richer for them.
I think now there is no such thing as a ‘terrible year.’ There is yesterday, today, and if we are lucky, tomorrow. How the days are measured is not in the quality of what they offer to us but that we have the good fortune of living them, and the chance to fill them with as much love, happiness and hope as we choose. A new year is just 365 opportunities to do the same, over and over again.
I’m choosing to be happy in 2017. I hope the same for you.
Take care of each other kids x