2016 guys. 20-muthafuckin’-16.
It’s been said before, but 2016 was a stone-cold serial killer. We lost so many greats this year, it doesn’t even make sense to list them out. We elected a caricature to the highest office in the land, finally ripping the band-aid off the gaping head wound that was cultural, racial, socio-economic, and gender division in this country-evidenced throughout the year by, oh, I don’t know, race riots, extra-judicial killings, the trivialization of sexual assault… take your pick. Not to mention what was happening beyond our borders in the form of geo-political upheaval, refugee crises, and assassinations.
Seriously. GTFO 2016.
But it would be a mistake to blame it on the year itself, and think tonight at midnight it will all get better. It won’t. 2016 has been building for a while, and we will not be magically transformed at 12:01am. It would be a waste of an opportunity to think so. Life doesn’t happen that way, though we like the artificial demarcation of time to tell us when we can be suddenly made new. I particularly like it, but if my illness over the last few years has taught me anything, it’s that we don’t get better all at once. Things-people, situations-get better as a process, and there are a lot of dark nights while it happens. And then one day, perhaps you don’t even realize it, things are sort of brighter. But I know that 12:01am won’t be that moment. This too will take time. This too shall pass.
In times like these my best friend Kelly employs the Zora Neale Hurston quote: “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” I can’t promise that 2017 will answer the questions posed by 2016, but I know that I’ve certainly been jolted awake, out of my comfortable elite liberal stupor in my east coast uber-educated enclave. I’d become navel-gazing and selfish, a bit, mired in my own personal issues. I’d lost sight of what brought me to this place, and law school before it: social justice. It no longer feels ok to cleverly moan about not finding a boyfriend when so many can’t find a safe place to sleep or food to eat. Yes- I realize I have still made this election, and the other things that contributed to the clusterfuck that is 2016, about me. It’s gonna take some practice to break the habit. But in 2017 I hope you’ll find me instead searching for answers, aggressively, proactively, and thoughtfully. That’s my intention for the new year, to stay curious, and conscious. And hopefully, I’ll see you on the other side of the year with some answers, and better, some actions.
So tonight I’m gathering with some favorite humans, sitting in front of a fire, and burning away a few vestiges of 2016. It’s silly and symbolic, but we need it. We’ll drink and we’ll hug and we’ll laugh and we’ll cry and we’ll remind ourselves that we are not alone in this year of questions. That is one sure bet, in a year where nothing and no one was safe. Tomorrow the sun will rise and things will be much the same, but I hope that we’ll be able to face it with a bit of renewed energy, as we go searching.
Happy New Year, everyone.