There is so much buzz going around about the year 2016, how terrible/surprising/tragic/ridiculous it was. While I felt a few personal blows last year, something more overshadowed my experience in the past ~365 days. A foul cloud of discouragement and cynicism hovered over 2016. And yet I’m not sure that this year was really worse than any other.
I joined many in mourning certain pop culture icons, in election results, and more. I was a part of the group who said, “Well, crap. This isn’t what I wanted to read in the news today, at all.” I knew the deaths of these well-known actors, authors, etc. weren’t a true personal loss, but it still seemed to signal the end of an era. Of a good thing. But the truth is, good things always come and go, as do the bad. It’s just how life is.
I’m not saying that the loss of beloved celebrities and role models isn’t something to acknowledge. These individuals do become important to us because of their work that affects our lives. That is what helps make us who we are.
But maybe instead of us bemoaning the fate of an entire year because someone famous died, we ought to use it as a reminder that we all have an expiration date.
Some sooner than others, though if some old codgers can be used as examples, the meaner you are, the longer we’ll have your presence on this earth. (PSA: Don’t be mean just so you can stick around.) Rather, live well, use what these iconic people have taught you, because you never know when you won’t have the time.
Multiple friends of mine have lost a parent or other family member this year. Someone close to them, someone dear. And I find it ironic that these friends are not the ones I constantly see posting about how awful 2016 was. Yet I think they’re probably the ones with the best reasons to do so.
Everyone grieves in their own way. We’re all different, so that makes sense. Not everyone is going to have an issue with posting sarcastic things about First-World problems being the Worst Things Ever. Heck, I’ve posted my share of the memes and pictures that basically said, “My problems with the color of a disposable coffee cup are more important than actual global issues.” And while I do appreciate sarcasm and morbid humor, it’s about time that I stop spotlighting it so much.
My mom and I were talking about 2017. What we looked forward to. I had a number of friends post about their word for the upcoming year, too. The word that kept knocking on my brain was, “Kindness.” I felt the Amy in 2016 was missing a severe amount of it. She had plenty of sarcasm, rolled eyes, and complaints. And I’m not going to lie, she had plenty of fodder for inspiration. But while there’s a time a place for dry humor, there is always a way to be kind. A way to still appreciate the irony in a situation, to allow venting frustration, and then move on to look beyond the fragile bubble of our temporary circumstances. To look around at those we love ruthlessly, who are crucial to our happiness, and to say, “Yes, that happened, but this is what’s important. This is who I’ll focus on.” Even when we must bid farewell to one of them.
I am with you when I say that I hope we have wonderful memories from 2017. I hope there isn’t a cloud over it when we say, “Goodbye,” to it in just 52 more weeks. But how we look back at our past depends on how we choose to view it. As something that moved us away from life as we liked it, or as something that pushed us towards something greater.