I have watched the days flit past on my calendar until, once again, we’re here. New Years Eve. And, just like all my previous New Years, I find myself in a pensive mood. Thinking over the things that have happened in 2016, both good, and not so.
It has been a rough year. We lost a lot of people, some surprising, some not, all sad. We powered through an election cycle more divisive than any since the Civil War. Some are disgusted, others diligently try to find healing through humor. I’m just hoping we can come together and find a way to learn from, and survive it. It has been a season marked by change and upheaval on a multitude of levels and it is my hope that we will not see it’s like again. Ever.
But, it’s been a good year too, in other ways. Simone Biles took the Olympics by storm, and Michael Phelps retook his place on that podium as well. The Cubs finally broke the curse. There was good music and great theater, and giant pandas finally made it off the endangered species list. Best of all, to me anyway, I got a new grandbaby. She is lovely and more than enough to make me call 2016 a good year.
But looking back can only tell you where you’ve been. While the past may teach lessons for the journey forward you can’t take a single step into the future until you turn around. And so, as midnight approaches on December 31, 2016, I’m turning around, looking forward to see what 2017 might bring.
As a human, I hope it brings more civility, more kindness, more love. We are all connected these days, whether we want to be or not. It is well for us to think, then, about what kind of world we want to live in.
Ghandi wasn’t kidding folks. You must truly be the change you wish to see in the world, but the world doesn’t wait for your desire. Our society will become, for good or ill, what we make it. If we send out bitterness, our world is made more cynical. If we send out hatred, then the world is darkened with bigotry and bias. If we project anger, then our world becomes ugly and cruel.
The upside is, as great as is our capacity for evil, greater still is our ability to do good. And if we put kindness into the world, it will become more generous. If we consistently act in fairness, bigotry will find it increasingly difficult to survive. And if we send out love… well, then we will see that capacity grow in those around us too. Because the truth is, what we hold within ourselves is what we send out into the world, and what we send out, is what our world becomes.
Sometimes, being the good guy is easy. It takes almost no effort to smile at a child, or to toss a couple of dollars into a hat. It’s harder when the person across from you is treating you unfairly. But that is precisely when it is most important to be your best self. Even if they don’t respond positively, when I choose to be my best self, I can walk away with my head unbowed, because their actions may hurt me, but they cannot change me for the worse unless I let them.
I admit my motives are not entirely altruistic. I like myself better when I am kind, and the plain fact is, I like that feeling far more than being ashamed. So, I’m going to make a concerted effort to be my best self in 2017. Personally, professionally, and creatively. I don’t expect to be uniformly successful. This pesky humanity has its downs as well as its ups and we are all bound to take them both together, like it or not. But I’m going to give it my best shot. That is my resolution this year. The only one I will make.
What about you? Will you make any resolutions this year? I’d love to hear about them. Tell me in the comments.