auld lang syne. Do you know what it means? Times long past. That's what it means. It seems like this time of year we all seem very melancholy about how it used to be. We become nostalgic for the loveliness that was visited upon us over the past year, and we pause and get a bit misty eyed as we begin to shake off the dust of the old year and walk hopefully into the new.
But not this year. Our nostalgia for "times long past" reaches further back, beyond 2016 which is now scorned and disparaged and, dare I say, hated. Frankly, I see why. The performing arts community has lost some beloved members, our country seems divided in ways those of us fifty and under haven't experienced. Divided by money and power, race and religion, popular and electoral, gender, sexuality... the list goes on and on.
One of the saddest divides seems to be between those who hope and those who are in despair. There are those who are frightened and confused and oppressed. There are those who have become embolden -- for good and for bad. There are those whose voices now roar and those who have been reduced to a whisper -- again for good and for bad. Those who are seemingly irrecoverably lost, irreparably broken, irreversibly hurt. And we wish for old times past when they were whole. When we were all whole or at least we were more whole.
But in the middle of this darkness, fear, despair, gloating, greed, rage and arrogance we find beautifully bright lights. These lights, the people who carry them will show us the way home... the way to the before we broke ourselves, individually, as a community, as a nation, as a civilization. It was not perfect, our humanity, it really never was but it was striving to do better. I believe that most people have a centering spot inside them, sometimes deep but often near the surface, that wants this world to be good for everyone. We all want to leave it better than we found it. We have to start acting like it.
I've always tried, when writing this blog, to not accuse or judge or sway a person's thinking. I believe free-will was given to us after we begged for it from the Divine. When writing I imagine walking you over to a window and asking you to look at the view from there. Sometimes you are familiar with it and have embraced it. Sometimes you haven't. It's up to you at that point to decide if that view is how you want to see what's out there or not. It's up to you. I'm not here to make you feel and think and believe as I do. I'm here to offer my perspective.
Here's how I'm looking at my 2016. I do come from a place of privilege... white, middle-aged, Midwestern, Christian, straight married woman, so take it as you may. Here's the view out of my window, because honestly, it's all I've got.
2016 is the year...
I found myself engaged, married, infinitely loved, divinely favored, truly blessed. I found myself stuck in an airport with my patient and loving husband. I found out that the wife must carry all the things. I've learned that step daughters will bring you joys unspeakable and that they will repeatedly scare you with a loud noise all the while taking video to put on Snapchat. I found that St. Croix isn't my cup of tea, and that sunrises with coffee and my husband are.
My hair will never not be gray in some spot. My feet now reject my highest of heels and sometimes any heel at all, but looking at my shoes color coordinated on the rack is enough. That figuring out what's for dinner for more than just myself is hard, yo. That you will find peace and contentment in folding laundry when you allow yourself to be grateful not just for your clothes but for the people for whom you are folding them.
Girls use lots of toilet paper. Taking a vacation to the beach with my husband and his girls and my brother's family was a dream come true and that I seriously suck at beach volleyball, but am awesome at fetching wet sand for sand castles.
Today when I accidentally gave my husband an anniversary card instead of a birthday card, he laughed and told me he loved me and that it was his very favorite card aside from those his daughters have made him. I found that even when I make a mistake... small or large... I'm loved and accepted. And that it will likely be a running joke for a while.
The kids in my life will never again be the age they are. The urgency I feel for this or that will wan as I find a new something to be passionate about. That drama is usually created by those of us who constantly point out drama. That there are people I don't need in my life and those I want with me every sunrise and sunset. Some people won't be here this time next year, so I better be grateful and present for them now. That I'm not guaranteed the next 365 days.
I learned that we have a lot of work to do to make the world a better, safer place and I should start with my corner, my mind, my heart and my mouth.
I learned that you cannot take away someone's fear.
I learned that I'm entitled to my beliefs, but expressing them also requires me to be responsible for them.
I learned that you never change someone with hate or ridicule, but by love.
I've learned that I have so very much to learn.
2016 took a lot, broke a lot, hurt a lot. Oh but didn't it have some high spots for you? I do hope that as 2017 creeps over the horizon, you have a small sense of nostalgia for moments this past year that were shining and beautiful. I know I do. So as we count down to the new year perhaps we purposely take the love and laughter with us, while also using the heartbreak to motivate us to do better this time around the sun. Let's keep in mind the song just says "times long past" not happy or perfect times... just times.
Here's to loving and learning and finding the fresh in 2017 and leaving the hell behind. Me, I'll probably be fast asleep, holding my husband's hand when 2017 dawns. That's a perfect beginning.