Mornin’ all, and a Happy New Year!
2016 was…hm. How shall we put it?
There’s an old curse that comes to mind. “May you live in interesting times.”
Yep. I think that sums up a year that saw the Grim Reaper swing at beloved figures from gorillas to intergalactic princesses, grown ass people legit frenzied over clowns, England pulling a ‘Merica, then ‘Merica out ‘Merica-ing England because we gotta keep our cred, bro… Beheadings shown on YouTube, alarming push for reversal of human rights laws, angry rednecks squaring off with shockingly angry hippies and neither side being self-aware enough to realize how stupid they’re all being… People having to protest in order to keep their drinking water oil-free in some parts, the government STILL not getting the lead out in other… Flat out making shit up being the new “spin” in journalism, “belief” being now touted as having more gravitas than proven fact and hard evidence by a scary number of those in charge… And that’s just the tip of the melting ice berg!
On a personal level, things were not as dramatic as beheadings and gorilla assassinations, but it was definitely a stand out year. It started with the great Electrical Apocalypse and snowballed. One of the pups had a very scary struggle with mental illness, another a gut-wrenching battle with a bully. Finances didn’t just go in the toilet, they’ve been flushed so hard that they’re probably tangled in one of those garbage floats somewhere out to sea, and let’s not even discuss the sketchiness that is my mode of daily transportation right now…
This past year was certainly “interesting.”
Thing is, “interesting” isn’t all bad, is it? Otherwise the curse would have been, “May you live in shitty times,” or whatever ye olde word for “shitty” would be. “May your days be excremental.” “May you dwell in times overrun by defecation.” “May the gods loosen their bowels upon your year.”
Some would argue that the gods did, indeed, let ‘er rip on the world in 2016.
The other day, we got a snowstorm. It was supposed to be dire, and it did turn out that way for parts of New Hampshire. Here, the fronts took a shift and the storm only dropped about five inches. It was a heavy snow that fell, the kind that’s shown on greeting cards, sticking to every branch and wire and fence post.
This particular breed of snow falls when the temperature hovers juuuust below freezing. It’s just cold enough for the flakes to fall as flakes instead of drops, but warm enough to make them moist and sticky. The bulk of the storm hit overnight. The man had to get to work early, so he and I donned our winter gear and went out to shovel at about five in the morning. Being the native with 20 more years experience in this type of situation, I tackled the berm while he started cleaning off the cars.
Shoveling the half-melting, salt-laden, three foot thick berm left by the road plows at five in the friggin’ morning with a strong wind blowing icy flakes in my face is not in itself very fun. I know. Shocking. It could have been just an awful experience.
But halfway through, I stopped to lean on my shovel and roll my back to loosen the kink, when I looked up.
If you’ve never been in a snow at night, I don’t know if I can adequately describe the experience. Not during the storm, but right after, when the last flake settles into its new blanket that covers everything with a bright, bluish quilt. There is no such thing as a dark night in winter if snow is on the ground. It reflects any tiny bit of light, creating a surreal and almost solemn landscape. Everything is quiet. Everything is still. Everything feels like it’s resting, waiting.
And then the clouds move and you are suddenly standing on a sleeping world, looking up into the clearest sky at the brightest stars. And you feel at once alone, and yet so much a part of it. You feel like an insignificant speck, but one who has, for some reason, been offered a glimpse of the universe, a tiny taste of the bigger picture. You feel like for once, you were at the right place at the right time. You were there.
The snow was heavy. My hands were numb. My back was most assuredly displeased, a disgruntlement I’m still dealing with today. It was such a shitty experience in almost every way. And yet, I am completely and utterly glad I was out there. I do not regret it in any way.
That was 2016. We were there. And while the shit snowed down around us, we had beautiful moments where we looked up, where we stopped and said, “I am here.”
Will 2017 be any better?
Welp, my dryer shit the bed. It’s not the Electrical Apocalypse. It’s more like a tribute to the Electrical Apocalypse. I think it’s an improvement, though. At least it’s only one appliance, not all of them.
Maybe that’s how we have to go into 2017. Things are not instantly going to be better. Change comes in small, measured steps, with heartache and strife along the way. The ball dropping wasn’t a magic wand that erased the past year, and it wasn’t a crystal ball promising good things for the one to come. Life doesn’t work like that. The universe doesn’t give a rat’s ass about our calendar.
But we made it through 2016, didn’t we? We were there.
And now, we are HERE.
I don’t generally make New Year’s resolutions. I know me. I wouldn’t stick to them even if I did. In fact, I tend to do the opposite. “I’m supposed to lose weight? Screw this shit. No one’s going to tell ME what to do, not even myself! Gimme all the ‘tato chips and order me a scooter. It’s about to get real.”
However, I do think we all should have one this year:
Take the time to look up.
If all we’re going to do is focus on the pile of shit we’ve gotta shovel, we’re going to miss so much. And I think that was 2016’s biggest problem. We allowed ourselves as a race to focus on the bad, while forgetting to recognize all the good that existed outside the small, petty side of humanity. If we keep doing that, nothing is going to change.
Look up. Make those moments where you take the time to appreciate that no matter what else is going on, you’re here. In spite of what is going on in the world, in spite of a universe that has done its level best to make things as difficult as possible for you to exist, you ARE.
I’m not saying that you should ignore the problems of the world. We can’t. We may only be a speck zinging through the universe that’s honestly insignificant in the grand scheme, but it’s our speck. We need to live here. Of course we need to do our best to make the experience as good as possible.
But life itself is amazing. It’s so very precious and rare, and if we don’t take the time during a storm to look up and feel the awe of the great picture, I guarantee we’re going to have an equally terrible 2017.
Look up. I promise it’s a resolution you’ll want to keep.
Thus concludes a quick Musing for New Year’s Day, 2017. I know it was sappy instead of silly. I’ll get back to silly next week.