Standing on the dock. Hand raised and ready to wave goodbye to the “worst” year ever…

There is, I suppose, a sense of how 2016 has sucked bricks through a cocktail straw.  Bad year.  Bad, bad year.  Yeah, it has been less than stellar, but…has it really been THAT bad?

I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.  I will not say I enjoyed it fully.  I didn’t.  It was a year of setbacks, losses, shocking turns of events.  And that’s not even counting a very nasty presidential campaign.  We got rid of cable.  We don’t watch TV.  That’s how negative the effect on our blood pressure and mood was.  We are content watching Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Acorn TV.  Not a Kardashian, Jenner, Trump, Clinton, Teen Mom alumna, Lohan, reality show pseudo-celebrity in sight that we don’t want to witness.  We read the news, yes, and we keep up with world events, but we don’t let the rest of the sprinkles, nonpareils, etc. interfere in what we do on a daily basis.

Well, we TRY to ignore the sprinkles and nonpareils, but they sneak in there and you can’t always dodge them.  We get the odd Kardashian selfie, the latest celebrity divorce, the hottest fashion trend that makes no sense.  They never “take,” but they do turn up…

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (possibly my least favorite philosopher) is one of the many who has stated that we learn from history that we learn nothing from it.  Add to that list Santayana, Hawking, Churchill, Hume, and many others.  I’m pretty sure Kermit the Frog has said it, too…or Linus from Peanuts.  It is true: we tend to go back to the same mistakes over and over, thinking all along that we will get a different result.  Einstein, in fact, said something about this being the definition of insanity.  Go figure.

So we entered 2016 full of the hope that is fed by hubris.  We were pretty confident that Risperdone was out of our lives, that we had J on an unerring track to unqualified success, that we had figured out the graceful way to segue into the new stage we were all facing at the time.

In quick succession TGG moved out (angrily,) my father passed away, I started having health issues that escalated, J’s school years ended, our grandson was suddenly removed from our family life (very little we could do there,) Dada’s job started going sour, another grandchild is on the way, SIB and anxiety made a triumphant return (like one of those characters in movies that you are pretty sure are DEAD and then rise from the ashes to stun the audience,) and we’re back on the med…and lots of bandaids..and a wrist brace…and that’s just J…we’re anxious, too.

If you look at 2016 from the wider angle of world events, yes, it was kinda bad.  Violence (which has never really been absent, has it, but is now more obvious and more present because we hear about it immediately and it’s dissemination is intended to scare us,) illness (I’ve had dengue fever…a couple of times, actually…but I was worried about Zika…because death,) riots provoked by social and racial discontent, the economy, earthquakes, flooding, fires…

Has 2016 been “that bad?”  I thought to myself of events that I consider terrible: the Johnstown Flood of 1889 and the Galveston Hurricane of 1900.  I read David McCullough’s The Johnstown Flood a few years ago; for the Galveston hurricane I read Erik Larson’s Isaac’s Storm.  With both books I was properly shaken by the impact these events had when they happened.  I decided to look up events that took place in both years.  Galveston and Johnstown were probably the “worst” events recorded at the time…and yet they were not the ONLY bad things that happened.  They were, at the time, not as widely broadcast as everything is now, but they were news items that definitely deserve attention even now because there was something massive to learn from each, and -hopefully- a lot has been learned.

Personally, 2016 was not my favorite year.  A lot of unpleasant, sad, negative, regrettable things have taken place, and we can’t go back and change them.  But the one thing everyone is saying about 2017 is that they hope it will be better.  And it might.  Who knows?  Generally speaking, the world is pretty much deteriorating in terms of quality of life and safety, isn’t it?  You can no longer say “I will go to the mall/the movies/the park and come out without something unpleasant happening.”  The world is full of uncertainties, and we run risks on a daily basis.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start every new endeavor without hope of success.  Our new endeavor is 2017.  We don’t get a do-over for 2016 (neither in the personal or world level,) but we have a whole year ahead of us, and we can work with it as we go along.  Granted: 2016 will have influenced some of it, and its repercussions will be felt.  In its defense, so will 2015’s, and -in some cases- 1999’s, 1977’s, 1968’s.  History keeps happening.  It happens to ALL of us, and it happens to EACH of us, and we are all tangled in it.  It’s going to happen until we are out of the game, and the purpose of the game is to keep playing…even if the bulk of the action is taking place elsewhere on the field, or if we hate the rules because they keep changing.

We are ready.  We don’t know what’s on the other side of 2016.  All we can do is look ahead.  Maybe there will be less med, less SIB, more calm, packing up our stuff and moving, a new job, health, bad weather, loss and love and the whole shebang.  The thing about hope is that we have to feed it, and we have to nurture it.  When things look bleakest, saddest, meanest, angriest, most hopeless…that’s when we take out the good suet to feed that little bluebird of hope and happiness.

J will be fine.  What kind of “fine” that will be is up in the air.  As children we all love balloons filled with helium, don’t we?  We are fascinated by their ability to lift and float, and sometimes get away from us.  When we see them deflate and lose that ability to rise on their own, we are sad and disappointed.  Reality will eventually deflate 2017 a little (after all, we will no longer be outsiders looking in…we’ll be full-time residents!,) but for now let’s watch it loom ahead, rising on the helium that is hope.  When it looks a little deflated, let’s imbue it with some more…just keep hoping.

After all, my friends, there are as many quotes about what courage is as there are about how dumb we are for not learning from history.  It all boils down to hope, doesn’t it?  And I am hoping, hoping…hoping…



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