New Year 2021


This is not our usual ‘New Year’ celebration, is it? We are now two full years into this relentless pandemic. We are, as Americans, at each other’s throats every single day over concepts both serious and stupid. Should we work to protect the rights of all voters to express themselves in each election? Should we push back against the biases we see in our media outlets? Do we really have to wear masks in the grocery store? Why do I need to get a vaccination if I’m not likely to die from this disease?

This year we find ourselves facing a New Year’s Eve that is fraught with anger, with frustration, with fear, with sorrow.

For me, and my immediate family, this is the year without our parents. This is our first look into a future with neither Mom nor Dad. A year in which we feel unbalanced, unanchored, adrift.

I want to write the usual hopes for the upcoming year and the usual funny looks back on the mistakes and mix-ups of last year.

But I can’t.

This year, I find that I am simply blank. There are too few thoughts in this weary head.

As I watch the waning days of 2021, all I feel is resignation.

I am resigned to the fact that more and more people are going to get sick in the next few weeks. I’m resigned to the realization that our country, and humanity as a whole, has completely mismanaged the enormous challenge of our global pandemic. Even though we KNOW that viruses cross borders, that viruses do not care what languages we speak or which gods we honor, even though we KNOW that every human on this little planet is at risk, we have still failed to look out for each other.

We have vaccines, but we aren’t going to share them because…..money.

My disappointment in the human race is profound.

I am resigned to the fact that the country in which I live is headed off a cliff, and that there is nothing in the world I can do to make it better.

Politicians will continue to yell and scream about nothing. People will continue to insist that they are on the “good” team. Temperatures will rise, storms will rage, glaciers will melt.

I’m sorry.

I’m usually able to summon up at least a modicum of hopefulness; I am a woman who surrounds herself with children, and that in itself is usually enough to keep me optimistic.

But as we come up on the first anniversary of our near insurrection, I read that our government is “weighing the possibility of seeking criminal charges”. And I realize that none of this theater is actually about stopping us from charging off that cliff. It’s about stringing things out until we get close enough to the famous “midterms” to impact the way we feel, and the way we will vote. It’s about liars, cheaters and traitors trying to wiggle out of the responsibility they have for what happened, and about those who are supposed to be holding them accountable finding the most politically expedient way to do that.

As our children are about to head back into schools that are literal petri dishes of infection, with no actual plan in place to keep anyone safe, I am aware that as a society we are happy to sacrifice our youngest children and their teachers so that the factories can keep churning out the endless piles of junk that we all so enjoy ordering online.

I have no uplifting, hopeful, empowering thoughts for next year.

I’m sorry.

I am blank. I am bereft. I am as empty as any candidate’s promise to save us.

So.

I wish you a 2022 of abject boredom, in which nothing remotely dangerous or scary happens to you or to anyone you love. I wish you a year empty of new variants, devoid of new mask recommendations, extra boosters, or anything involving the word “antibodies”.

May your greatest surprise in 2022 come in the form of an unexpected blossom on a plant you thought you’d lost. May your biggest challenge be trying to remember the name of that wonderful teacher from elementary school.

I wish you peace. I wish you rest. I wish you at least one fabulously delicious meal shared with people who make you laugh out loud.

Most of all, dear friends, my New Year’s wish for all of us is that one year from now we find ourselves saying, “Well, that was certainly an improvement.”

Happy, healthy 2022 to everyone on planet earth.

The Ending of Another Year


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When I was younger, New Year’s Eve meant the welcoming of a newer, brighter, more hopeful next step. We were all moving forward into a brighter day, where all of the errors of the past could be erased and the dawning of a new spring was just ahead of us.

I remember one New Year’s Eve celebration with friends, where one of us jumped up on a table at midnight, glass of wine in hand, and shouted, “This is the year when I get MARRIED!!!” The whole bar cheered, and we all laughed and danced and jumped up and down.

It feels like yesterday.

That friend is now a grandmother of two, with another on the way. She’s still married to that fabulous guy she was dancing with on that long ago eve.

And I feel as if no time at all has passed. And I feel like that night was a thousand years ago.

Now we stand on the brink of another New Year.

Now I am more practical, more measured, more prosaic as I mark the unstoppable march of time.

Goodbye, 2017. You were a year. You had your wonderful glories, like the birth of our sweet little Johnny. And the celebration of our sons falling in love. And the wonderful summer weather.

But you were a regular year, so you had your awful moments, too. Like the loss of a young friend by his own hand. And the death of our sweet old Tucker.

You were a year of fear for a lot of us, as we saw our country fall under the control of a man who most of us think is a dangerous despot. We found ourselves revisiting our fears of nuclear war. And discovering new fears of a vulnerable power grid and cyber war.

You were a year of shock. But you were also the year of our renewed strength, as so many of us marched to voice our outrage. I ushered you in with millions of other resistors around the country, and I will usher you out with my resolve unchanged.

2017, you were a year.

I am happy enough to bid you goodbye, although a part of me thinks, “one less year of life for me” as I wave you out the door.

2018, let’s welcome you in. May your storms be few, your wars be limited, and your memories be sweet.

Another trip around the sun for all of us. Next year, I’m sure, will be another year on planet earth.

 

Resolving to find my “glittering eyes”.


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I guess I am basically a simple person, looking for simple answers.  I like ideas that can be wrapped up as neatly as a little burrito and held in my hand.

I also like ideas that are expressed both clearly and beautifully.

So as I sit here on this frigid last morning of the year, I have been searching for a quote that can guide me through 2015.  I know better than to make resolutions at my age.  There is no chance that I’m suddenly going to get in shape or embrace an exercise plan.  I’m pretty sure that I won’t actually learn to knit or teach myself Italian, although I’d love to do both.  I already work hard at being a kinder, more patient, more accepting person, so there’s no need for a resolution about it.

Instead, I have decided to look for the perfect quote. Something that I can print out and hang up on my classroom wall. Something I can keep in my wallet and pull out when I’m feeling overwhelmed or frustrated or just plain crabby.

I started with political quotes, but I already strongly agree with all the best ones.  Like this one, from John Adams:

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

Pretty cool to find that John Adams said exactly what I’ve been saying!  I felt smart, but didn’t think that was a quote to live by, you know?

Then I thought maybe I could find a quote from song lyrics.  Maybe Bruce Springsteen could help?  Alas, in the end I decided that its a little bit too late to “get out while we’re young”.   I kept looking.

And I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I found the perfect quote from one of my favorite authors.  Roald Dahl, author of so many magical, whimsical, powerful children’s books, said this:

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Isn’t that wonderful?

So this is what I will try to do this year.  I will try very hard to watch the whole world around me with glittering eyes. I will try to look past the ugliness and the violence. I will try not to focus on the drudgery or the sameness or the repetition that is such a big part of everyday life.   I will keep my eyes on the children in my care, those children who are so very good at seeing magic, and who all have those glittering eyes.  I will look for the small sparks that inhabit the icy winter world, and those that come with the emerging spring.  I’ll try to appreciate the heat of summer and the crispness of the fall.

Most of all, I will try hard throughout 2015 to find the secrets and the magic in the people around me, even the grownup people.  I will try to keep myself open to them, and see that they all hold great beauty inside them.

Happy New Year, my dear friends!  May you keep your belief in magic, and may you find it in the most unlikely places!