Sunday, January 17, 2016

When the Happy Falls Away from the New Year

What happened had to happen sometime. It just had to be this week.

I’d planned one of those “Predictions for 2016” posts for earlier this year, in which one of my predictions was, “An actor or musician beloved for work done half a century ago in the 1960s, or perhaps the 1970s or 1980s or even the 1990s, will die, and even if it’s expected (because the old coot was in his 80s; did you honestly expect him to live forever?), it will absolutely ruin your mood for the day, and maybe days to come.” 

It sounded more mean-spirited than proper British stiff-upper-lip/Germanic stoic, and I’ve been striving to isolate my mean-spiritedness to my fictional work, where the bad guys are the bad guys because they’re bad, just like in real life. Also, yet another column of tongue-in-cheek predictions for the year is simply too Dave Barry cheesy-cornball to be endured. I couldn’t do that to myself, let alone my long suffering audience. 

I’m especially glad I held off, given the one-two punch of surprise celebrity deaths this week—and, yes, I know many people who weren’t as emotionally invested in their respective bodies of work are already long-since sick of hearing about these individuals in particular. I’m not talking about them so much as what happens when bad news hits like a bolt from the blue, and all of a sudden the shine is off the New Year.

It happens every year. If you want to talk about the things that really hurt people, as opposed to celebrity deaths, well, we’ve got a lot to talk about. I don’t even want to name the things I’m thinking of that are happening right now. Suffice it to say that awful things are happening somewhere in the world every minute of every day, and occasionally the body count is impressive enough to merit a breathless “news” story in the media.

Me, I already knew 2016 was going to be a tough year because it’s a national election year in the USA. No, we’re not going there, either.

Let’s talk about picking ourselves up and continuing after our chosen goals. Or better yet, let’s not talk. Let’s redouble our efforts towards whatever we wanted to achieve not even three weeks ago, when the lights still sparkled on the tree.

Look at it this way: you’re already having a better year than David Bowie and Alan Rickman. And all that other bad news pumped into our Twitter and Facebook feeds is specifically designed to troll us—to provoke a negative reaction, while somehow making us receptive to buying investment programs and diet supplements. Instead of reacting to all of this, let’s simply act on whatever it will take to help us take care of ourselves, and those around us. As the closing line of one of my favorite poems goes, “Yours is not theirs.” Take gratitude in that, and let’s get the spring back in our step, because we’re outta here.
Will we be here to see the leaves return to these trees, to feel the wind blow warm across our faces? If so, who will we be then? What will we have to show for this winter?