Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 - We say good-bye to the year we all hated

Ah. man.

Where even to start?

I don't think even at the close of 2001 I was feeling this twitchy.

Yes, the year seemed off before the end of January when Bowie died.  It wasn't sudden, as it turned out, but I had no idea the man was sick.  Heck, he had a new album and I thought he was going on tour.  But after the late-night release of the news, it was like the year just started tumbling.

It wasn't just that it was people died who we grew up with.   When John Glenn goes in his 90's, it's a day of mourning, but not a shock.  At this point in my life, I'm a whole lot close to Carrie Fisher's 60 than her 19 year-old-self playing Princess Leia.  Still, others we assumed would always be there, like Spider-Man or The White House or something...  they, too, passed on, leaving us all with questions.  How does Prince even die?  Shouldn't he have turned into a being of pure purple energy and vanished into the cosmos?  At least Bowie left us with Blackstar and one last enigma.

To say it was just the deaths of the rich and famous isn't really all of what made the year one like any before it.

We watched a hellacious Republican primary season unfold in ways unthinkable just eight or twelve years ago.  We nominated and elected a game show host - and not even one from a good game show.  We spent the past year watching trust in facts erode as partisanship overtook any faith in the press, we truly entered a post-truth era, and the press routinely gave us reasons not to believe in them, anyway.

Our high school friends and families went crazy on social media, deciding this was their soap-box moment and went on bizarre tears and rants, linking to conspiracy websites, and generally making it feel like everyone we knew was harboring a deep-seeded insanity.  Or, conversely, we might be the ones who were crazy.

Of course, I'm still sorting through the turn of the national mood and the change in the political tenor that seems to exist online, but you rarely see face-to-face in daily life.  You just see the after-effects and impacts.  It's like trying to grasp vapor.

Let's get it out of the way - The Cubs did win the World Series.  That was the most euphoric I got all year, and I'm still in disbelief.  The pet theory at our house is that it took all the positive karmic energy out of our corner of the universe to bend reality to The Cubs' benefit.  The sheer force of overcoming a century of Cubs-ness meant left little light for everything else.

Was it worth it?  Well, I would have been happy with winning the National League, but I did get to see it, and that's something.

For me, any year with Jamie doing well and a job under my feet is a great year, truth to be told.  I got to watch my nephew grow and become a little man.  My dogs are well.  We didn't have to say good-bye to anyone in our immediate family.  We worked to make good days for ourselves.  Jamie and I had a lovely vacation and saw old friends.

I traveled to some interesting places, met some great people, worked with great people.  We made some progress at work.  in between I saw some great films.  Saw some terrible films.  Read some good comics, bad comics and books good and not great.  Some of that we'll cover in other year in review write-ups.  And, hey, DC Comics quit making me sad on the comics side, even if that 2x per month publishing schedule is hard to keep up with.

We saw a possible future in space travel with the rise of private companies like SpaceX breaking new frontiers and doing incredible things with rocket technology.  We continue to robotically explore Mars, we get back images of our neighboring planets and their satellites.

On Earth we see improvements in technology and medicine.  Unemployment has been low.  We're seeing changes in how people address equal rights - and, of course, the pushback we've seen which informs much of what's happening on the periphery and seeping into the mainstream.

But, no, 2016 wasn't all sunshine and roses.  Certainly not everything went according to plan on a multitude of levels, personally, professionally and in many different spheres, but - I am afraid you won't hear about that just now, simply because I'm looking back on the year.  Buy me a cocktail in person and I'll tell you my woes.

Nor was the year a walk in the park for family and friends.  Some of what happened was awful.  I hope I've been available enough to all of them.  I'm not sure that's true.  I suspect this is true for all of us.  Maybe we can all do better in 2017.

My big lesson of 2017 is that I can't predict anything.  I used to pride myself on understanding people, systems and the landscapes well enough to know how things would work out and make the right call ahead of time.  But 2016 was more than happy to teach me some damned humility, over and over and over.  I consider it wisdom more than a shaking of confidence.

So, the year is behind us.  And as seems to be the case every year, I'm ready to close this chapter and move on.

The New Year presents us with a blank page, but it doesn't mean the pages preceding it have been torn from the book.  Now's just the opportunity to say "and then..."  That's all any of us get, really.  We get a chance for a tomorrow.  Maybe a better tomorrow.  And we get that chance every day until we pull a ticket and realize it's the last one.

We've got a year of 365 days ahead of us.  Let's make the most of them.

And now... dogs.

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