Everyone just seems so tired with 2016. Between the seemingly endless celebrity deaths, the surprising election results, and personal strife, the past year has earned a disdainful spot in the hearts and minds of a lot of people who are just wanting to move on with their lives. My social media feed is filled with posts demanding that 2017 be better or behave as if it is some sort of conscious entity that can be controlled. However, that’s not the truth. Time is indifferent.
People are exhausted and worried. And I understand why. While a new year holds uncertainty, we all want it to be better than the last year. If you happen to believe all of the editorials and social media posts about what a terrible year was 2016 was, it is easy to become a part of the disillusionment. And when that happens, people cling desperately to any hope they may have left. So, something as symbolic as a calendar changing years overnight means so much. Our society places so much importance in the concept of a fresh start that we seem to think we can relegate the abstract concept of time to fit within our rules. However, that’s not possible. I think it was some Irish prophet who said “nothing changes on New Year’s Day.”
I won’t say that people’s worries are unfounded. The inauguration on January 20th seems to be the specter hanging over the beginning of 2017 and fueling a lot of the worry I am witnessing. I’m no different. I am concerned too. But, that’s a real event with real world consequences. I think what has become tiresome about the talk of 2016 being so bad concerns the endless posts and articles about celebrity deaths. If that is your criteria of what makes a year so terrible, you need to redefine your priorities. Surely, we lost a lot of great people. And we will never forget them and the influence they have had on our lives. But, they’re dead and they cannot do anything for us now.
Each year has it’s own ups and downs and 2016 is no exception. Over the course of every year, there are moments where humanity shines through, moments where darkness settles, and moments where we just don’t know what will happen. We cannot control what happens over the course of 365 days, but we can choose how we react to it. If you want to think this year was terrible because of a few celebrity deaths, then do it. However, that is one small aspect that makes up the complicated fabric of time that we confine to a certain length. For all those bad things where we place that meaning, there are a lot of great things that happened as well. As for me, I don’t want to walk into 2017 already afraid of what may or may not happen. We’re stronger than that as a society.
Acknowledging that life can go in all sorts of directions is important to getting through rough periods. Put any bad moments in the context that things will get better and you’ll appreciate the good moments more. And, of course, there will be more dark times. But you will get through them. None of knows what will happen.
That is why I love the song “What Will the New Year Bring” by Donna Fargo. A bit more optimistic than other New Year’s anthems like “New Year’s Day” by U2, Fargo’s sweet country western tune is about having faith that you can survive during times of uncertainty and darkness as long as you have hope to stick together. There is something so simple to that and it gives me hope. It is when you start to overthink about what could go wrong, you quit thinking about what is going right and how you can use that when times are bad.
In Fargo’s song, she knows that you must put things in perspective. The past year was good for her, but the year before was a little rough. But, that is old news. What about this new year? Will it bring us love and joy? Probably. Will there be more growing pains to add to the ones already weathered? Likely. That’s just what happens over the course of a year. You must take the bad with good.
Fargo doesn’t know what the new year will bring, but she still seeks out the positive outcomes. Though she is asking the question whether her or not her partner will continue to love her the way they do, they key is the way she is thinking. Frame the uncertainty from a more positive perspective. All things will end. Whether it is a marriage, a friendship, or a life, all things must pass. But why worry? There’s no use. Fargo asks if her partner will only love her for a year or two or perhaps even four or five or six hundred years or more. None of them knows the answer, but they still celebrate the New Year and whatever is in store.
2017 will be no different than 2016. 2017 will be better in some ways, and worse in other ways. That’s a fact. But we can get through this. Let’s not get distracted by celebrity deaths or what’s trending on social media. Let’s continue to work together to make sure the next year was better than the last. And if not, then let’s not lose hope and try again. With love for our friends and neighbors, we can make the impossible possible and the world shine brighter.