Saturday, December 24, 2016

Thoughts On A Provocative Year

As this will be my last post in 2016, I’m compelled to write something that looks back on the year. Something philosophical. There’s certainly plenty of food for thought. And lots of thoughts that were food for bloggers of every persuasion. You’ll be happy to know I don’t intend to get into the weeds of the Presidential election. I’ll do that with my January post of my banned words and phrases for 2017.

However, in the abstract it’s impossible to write about 2016 without having that election in the back of one’s mind. By that I mean the year was nothing if not unpredictable and a break from tradition. On a personal level, that ended with me finally giving up on having a live Christmas tree. You may have read my earlier blog on my inner conflict on that front.

My loss was not just of a live tree at the end of the year, but of dear friends and family earlier on. Their deaths led to the realization that the roles each played in the traditions of my life were also inexorably gone. People move in and out of our lives, but as long as they are still living, there is the possibility that we’ll “catch up” with them again at some point. Reminisce about the good old days, the trips we took, the holidays we celebrated together. Death brings finality to that. Their book has closed.

Elections can also put the stamp of finality on hopes and expectations. Yes, I was able to vote for a woman to be President for the first time. But I might not see one inaugurated in my lifetime. I hope I live long enough to refute that, but for now, I feel a deep sense of loss.

On the brighter side, the events of 2016, both personal and public, remind me that change is part of being alive. How often do we hear the old saw: “Consider the alternative”? Technology puts so many new horizons within our reach. My sister had two knee replacements this year. The new parts were made on a 3D printer to exacting specifications that matched her body to perfection. We’re now looking forward to a trip to Italy together next October.

I’ve landed some new writing gigs with local publications. Beginning next year, my work will appear regularly in two newspapers and a magazine, and I’ll get paid for each article. I’ll also have one of my essays included in an anthology that will be published in 2017: Eighty Things To Do When You Turn Eighty. That milestone is a ways off for me, but I’m happy for the national exposure and they aren’t making me stop dying my gray hair.

My husband, Jagdish, travels to Providence every week for a few days to spend time in his store, Spectrum-India. He and his customers are happy to have him there and I have more than enough to keep me occupied while he’s gone. (Did I mention the senior cats we adopted in the spring?) I’m still playing the saxophone with a community jazz group. I haven’t practiced enough lately to make noticeable progress, so I’ve put my lessons on hiatus. I plan to reinvigorate that effort in 2017.

As I look back on 2016, I could easily become disheartened and bitter. So many of my friends have headed down that road. But I prefer to end the year—and this post—on an upbeat note. We rarely know where the year ahead is going to take us. Events outside our control may or may not impact us personally. But the ones within our control certainly will influence our lives. The year 2017 may surprise us all. I hope that if it surprises you, it’s in a good way. I’m determined to have it turn out that way for me!

Happy Holidays and a healthy and joyful 2017 to all of you.

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