Friday, December 30, 2016

It's About Time

We humans are a curious bunch. We want everything neat and orderly. We want a clear endings and clear beginnings. We are pretty doggone silly in that respect. We can blame that on our training - as children we learn that stories (should) have a certain pattern to follow and we come to expect that in our own stories. But, our own stories involve life and although our stories kind of follow the pattern (birth - stuff in the middle - death), they aren’t much for formulaic scripting.

This year, 2016, has earned itself a bad rap. Completely understandable. Although, rationally, we know how implausible it is to anthropomorphize a calendar year, it does seem like this particular year had a vendetta to settle. I’ve been right there with everyone else saying, “Dear gods, I’ll be glad when 2016 is done!” Or, “I can’t wait for 2017, it’s going to be a better year! I swear, it has to be better than this one.” Um. No, no it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for optimism, but I’m also savvy enough to recognize life as a super-magnet for crazy, sad, turbulent, unexpected, life-changing shit happening. I’ve also been around long enough to know that all those "Shit Happening" things can be the best possible things to happen even though they happen in the worst possible ways. So, yes, we’re silly. Because putting any kind of requirement and expectation on an entire year puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on us.

All the same, am I anxious for 2016 to be done? Yeah. I am. I’m ready for a new number (partly because my inner nerd has a thing for prime numbers). I’m not entirely sure why. For all my protestations, I see the beginning of a year as a fresh start, even though I have no intention of doing much of anything differently than I have been all along. Among other things, 2016 is forever going to be the year my brother died and I’m ready to be done living in that same year. That aside though, it’s been a kind of decent year for me. I’ve had adventures; hugged some good friends; I’ve known love; I’ve had very comfortable shelter; I’ve done work that makes me feel good. And, holy shit, but the fucking Chicago Cubs won the World Series!

More than anything, because of world events, deaths, and other harsh stuff, it’s been a year of deep introspection for me. For me, that chalks it up to having been a fucking uncomfortable year. Too often, it felt like there wasn’t room to breathe. Joy felt like a gauzy, ephemeral thing that wanted to disappear entirely.  Do I expect less or more of 2017? Neither, really. I have a couple of things planned, a few ideas in mind for stuff I'd like to do and the direction I’d like to see my creative world move in. But, really, life is going to do what life is going to do. I don’t say that with apathy, I simply refuse to fall prey to the folly of trying to structure the future. If I make each day count, whatever happens, then each next day is going to be more about making that day count.

Making resolutions is just asking for the Universe to throw a wrench into the works. Planning to work out five days a week is great until you get the flu on January 4th. Then, because you haven’t lived up to your resolution, you give up entirely. I’ve been there many times. I've made resolutions to write X amount of words or pages every day, post to my blog once a week, and finish my novel. I've made resolutions to do this or that with my artwork. And then I don't live up to those resolutions for whatever reason. Sometimes they are good reasons and not simply excuses. However, most of the time they relate to unrealistic expectations, like thinking I'm going to magically transform into someone with a mentality other than my own. Sometimes it’s just the Universe letting me know that for all my swagger, it’s got other plans. For all my proclamations, resolutions, and stubborn determination, I’ll never be any more than me, much less be anyone other than me. Ah, but, I’m also never going to be any less than me, and nobody else is ever going to be me. See how great that works?

So, I’m not all worked up about a year ending or another beginning. Each day is another day and will come with whatever side dish the Universe chooses to serve. Doors close and doors open, some even revolve, and all I can do is give the best of me to whatever and whomever comes my way, no matter what year or time of year it is.

I do know this much. When I wake up on January 1, 2017, it will likely feel much the same as having awakened on December 31, 2016. All other things being equal, only the numbers will have changed. Those neat, orderly, implacable numbers that, a very long time ago, some dry dusty old farts decided to label our days, months and years with. And I’ll still be exactly me. I can promise that.


  1. One day older, that's what I am. Raising my coffee cup to you and whatever this new set of numbers brings you ... and me! (sound of cups clinking)