It seems like at this time of year one can think of nothing but how to do some sort of speculative “what the year was” and “what the year will be.”
This is not strictly true. I thought of another theme for this post, then I took a shower and it washed right out of my hair. It might help understand how my mind is — isn’t! — working that yesterday I forgot to comb my hair. ALL day. This morning I had knots…
So I’m going to go with the kind of year 2016 was.
It was a year of changes…
Everyone and their brothers keeps telling me “It’s just the baby boomers dying.” This is nice. Kind of. Except it’s not, not really.
First of all, let’s discuss boomers and the fact my generation isn’t. Not really. We’re a good seven or eight years sandwiched between boomers and xers, not by demographic reasoning (though by my time the “boom” had been descending for five years) but by life experiences. In the summer of sixty eight I learned to write (I could read before that) and in the fall I entered elementary. I suspect I spent the rest of the year harassing cats and annoying my family, which was the description of my life at the time. BUT though I had hair past my butt (didn’t get it cut till five years later, at 11. And be fair, have had it that long again about ten years ago, because I FORGOT TO CUT MY HAIR. I finally had it chopped when I realized what a pain it was to gather it all when I had to go to the bathroom in the night. Yes, hair you can sit on is an hazard.) the “summer of love” means only that I got to cuddle all the cats.
Second, people my generation are joining the parade of death.
Yes, a ton of these people did hard drugs/sex/anything they could do. But still. It seems we’re simply not washing and wearing as well as the WWII hard smoking and drinking generation. And given all the crazy in health studies in recent years, would any of us die of shock if we found out that the jump in longevity was BECAUSE of hard drinking and smoking? Be honest now.
But beyond the parade of death (remember to watch all the exits until past midnight, because I suspect 2016 is lurking behind the door with a knife, silent movie style) the truth is that 2016 wasn’t so much a bad year as a year of changes.
For us perhaps most of all, caught between the last year (probably) in which we have at least one kid in the house, and hopefully getting kids off payroll two years from now, and because of a concatenation of circumstances, we moved TWICE to very different houses.
The thing is that we ended up where we wanted, even if it still needs work, but good LORD it’s been trouble. Most of the year I squeezed out writing by the two hour a day or so, while giving my all, and all my energy to things that needed to be done.
Things are not so much starting to settle, as achieving a higher state of of equilibrium. I.e. we are settled in the new house and things are starting to get organized here. And Dan’s schedule and mine is shaking out, though we’re still more or less enmeshed with one kid for another six months and he eats with us often enough I can’t plan for just two.
This is not settled, but I can see it from here, and I’m trying to establish new habits that allow me to make the most of the new equilibrium.
Only I think for a lot of us the changes will continue. I know what brought about my crazy year, but I swear everyone else is complaining of these macro changes and it makes no sense for everyone to be in this half-step-to-somewhere-else mode. It’s enough to make you believe in astrology.
It’s enough to make you believe in astrology if you don’t understand the other stuff going on, that is. It’s not that the planets are in turmoil, but that this planet is. Sure, part of it was the misguided attempt to bring about an apotheosis of the progressive ideology here, while it failed everywhere, in the real world. Yeah, sure. Regulations and the crazy stupid health law are sending out economy into a spiral past the s bend.
But part of it is… well… to quote someone though I don’t remember whom, the fact that progressives take over institutions, skin them, gut them and then wear their skins demanding respect.
This has been going on a long time, in media, in publishing, in any art, and in the last few years in industry and science.
The industries that were taken over earlier would have died. They would have. But the free market is not a political position, but a law of nature. It’s like blocking the path of a river. The water doesn’t just disappear, it finds a new way (even if that involves a lake that then overflows.)
So we have indie publishing, indie music, indie journalism and I’m fairly sure from the feel of things, very soon real indie films with power. After that the sky is the limit. I mean, I once helped crowd fund a scientific study on the penis of ducks (What? Like you wouldn’t! It was called Duck Force.)
But as other industries get hit by change in ways I don’t even fully get because I’m not in them, that means changes hitting everywhere at once.
Judging by myself, even if changes are for the better, the result of a series of them in a quick succession is wanting to curl up and cry like a baby.
And I think we’re all for a lot of these over the next few years, besides a continuing parade of death, because yes, baby boomers, but also because one normal reaction to change is stress and stress kills.
So — what to do?
I can’t promise this will work, but I encourage you to see the best in things. Spend a few hours every week where instead of focusing on what went wrong or how scared you are, you think of what is going right, and how you can take advantage of it. It’s not perfect, but I try.
The other thing is: Forgive yourself. When things are changing quickly and unexpectedly, you can’t expect to always make the right decision. So, forgive yourself when you don’t. And keep trying. You’re not defeated so long as you are still in the ring, or above ground.
Keep going. At the end of this there’s pie in the sky by and by, but you have to get there. The only way forward is through.
Keep an eye on the changing road, and walk on.
In the end we win, but it’s not all easy or simple. You have to get there first.