Politics and other awkward stuff

The Year That Was

Confetti and noisemakers are so yesterday. But maybe that’s just me.; party animal was never in my DNA. Luckily, my husband was also more into cozy over carnival New Year festivities. Except for an early Chinese nosh, our couch, movies and snacks were our go-to gala though I admit funky party hats were occasionally worn on said couch. Some might think we were either too lazy or minus the imagination to celebrate the night with abandon. But, the cancer elephant in our room was more than enough excitement in our lives. It made more mucho sense to do happy over hoopla.

I suspect I’m plain not wired to do the full New Year’s monty. Having a low-key mindset is not such a bad thing, however. In fact, it came in handy in widowhood. Being able to ‘adapt’ to revelry without my handsome dude in the blue glitter top hat, was an asset. Come to think of it, my kids and married granddaughter must have also inherited some of the New Year homebody genes — so mea culpa in advance for that, guys.

What the new year brings to you depends a great deal on what you bring to it.” Vern McClellan

In the end, the New Year’s Eve ball will never need my help to make its descent into the next year. No liquor store will miss the sale of my one glass of wine and while my comfy jammies don’t fit the red carpet dress code, they are their own microfleece party. My snacks are obscenely healthy. And my out-of-control revelry consists of journaling, movie bingeing and phone gabbing with friends. It works.

When you give yourself space to think about the year that went bye-bye, all kinds of observations pass through your mind. Me? I think about the wide eyed, sweet little New Year’s baby who, by the end of each year, morphs into the weathered, tired Father Time. As each year closes, that long bearded dude passes the torch back to the diapered newbie who takes tentative steps into the next 365. Are we as innocently optimistic about a brand new year as that little tyke? Maybe not but I suspect none of us are ready to be a cynical Father Time either.

 “An optimist stays up until midnight to see a new year in; a pessimist stays up to make sure the old one leaves’”.  Bill Vaughn

Politics can tick us off big time. This past year, walls and homegrown gun deaths went up; morale and trust went down. The rich got mega richer while the poor still poorer. That daily crazy alone can make us doubt we’ll ever be spinning on an even axis again. But, things have a way of turning around. Finances, ditto. Illness? Grief? Those are the toughest of all. When either touch us with the heaviness of a well thrown brick, it’s hard to see any good in the year that passed. I get it. Boy, do I get it. It’s hard to be Pollyanna discovering a silver lining to anything that rips our heart out. Sometimes the digging is hard to find the beautiful moments, the ones that touch that same heart that is also broken.

These last few years, as I reflect on the one that passed, I think about what HAS stayed in my life. Friends who touched and supported me in ways I can never repay. Kids, grands who warm me and enlarge my every day with love and gratitude. I remember things that have come into my life or have always been there, making me feel alive and blessed. And, I think about the rest of this big world and how there is more need, hunger, desperation and death than we can even imagine. With all that has hurt and pained us to the max, we still exist in an undeserved microcosm of life, unknown to much of the planet.

In the departed year, we’ve seen babies born — and loved ones die. We’ve experienced all the jubilant, terrible, happy, tragic things a year can and does bring. We’ve lived through corruption, secrecy and government insanity that’s divided a country. Yet, no matter where we are, geographically, physically or emotionally, we each watched that brilliant ball drop at midnight, as we said goodbye to this past year’s entire mess and magic.

And here we are today, walking into a spanking new year. An empty calendar yawns open before us.  I’d like to look to this unknown new year with hope, not dread; with the wonder that things can be better, brighter in the year ahead. And I want that for everyone I love and those I don’t even know. I want it for my sweet, oldest friend who lost her precious daughter this past year; for another friend who’s battling the same cancer her daughter survived. I want it for this nation as it enters an election year, to get a clue, to stand up with courage, awareness and unity. I want it for every child who sits in a hospital like St. Jude’s, without the rosy cheeks, excitement and twinkling eyes of my own gorgeous grandchildren. And for peoples across the globe who are terrorized and killed daily in their own lands, help for those who can’t make ends meet, for single moms, the disabled, the looked down on and the disenfranchised.

 “Last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.” T.S. Elliot

Minutes count down each New Year’s Eve. Time ticks away every last day of every year since the world began – and it will rinse repeat each year long after we are gone. Years go on, life goes on and time teaches us how to live with the worst, as we try to make each day our best. Married, widowed, single, black, white, sick, well, gay, straight, time marches on for every one. All we can do is march with it in the best way we can, alone — and together.

2019 is a wrap. While I will never again get to lip-lock my handsome husband on a New Year’s midnight, I choose to live my best life for the time I’ve been given. None of us knows what the year ahead holds — and that might be a damn good thing.

We all know well that the days in our lives are numbered. Unfortunately, we will never be handed cliff notes about what that number is. In the past year, we may have had way more tears than smiles; anxiety than peace but, ready or not, 2020 is here. We can’t escape it; the future just walked in the front door. Take a deep Namaste breath and allow yourself to be present to this new year. Enjoy, observe, experience your life – every single minute. Stand up. Say something. See the beauty in small moments and in others. The year that was, has nothing on the year that can be, so have hope, try new things, see the good. Let’s get a ‘hell, yes’ for a year that’s not recycled but really ‘new’, really good and really whole.

We each have a voice. And mine says ‘You got this!’

1 thought on “The Year That Was”

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