New Year’s Day is generally a non-event for me. Sure, if I’m with people, I’ll enjoy whatever rituals and traditions they have, but I don’t expect to feel that life has been ‘rebooted’ and is all bright and shiny just because the calendar says it’s the start of a new year.
This year, though, I haven’t been neutral, but apprehensive for a number of reasons – political, economic, cultural – you name it. Perhaps at some point I’ll look back on this time and say I and my family and friends worried for nothing, but I’m not feeling that way right now.
However, not wanting to feel so helpless in the face of all that’s going on, I went looking for words to hold on to and found some.
From my friend Bonnie:
We all thought 2016 was really bad but now we have to face 2017. It’s time to focus. Think about what you want to see in 2017 that is positive and good and then figure out the steps needed to get you there. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Be flexible and above all, just be kind. And, post cute baby animal pictures, puppies, kittens, babies and wow, those baby otters! We will get through this together. For myself, I know that I will never again be complacent about things I took for granted – like the rule of law, freedom of speech – that stuff. Stay outraged and vocal.
Definitely on posting cute baby pictures and on being kind.
From Charles M. Blow, writing in the New York Times:
Exclaiming your resistance, while necessary, is insufficient […] You need to augment your outrage with actions that are affirming, behaviors that reinforce principles and values.
When politics seem out of your control, remember that community and culture are very much in your control. We help shape the world we inhabit every day. A life is a collection of thousands of decisions, large and small, made every day.
Italics are mine because I like what he says about community and culture being in our control.
From an article by Nicholas Kristof, also writing in the New York Times:
I’ll do my part to support the society I’d like to see. I’ll eat Chobani yogurt because its owner has been subjected to racist attacks for his willingness to hire and promote refugees […] I will do what I can in my own life to make sure that the needy aren’t forgotten in the next four years […] I can support Reach Out and Read, an outstanding program that helps at-risk kids learn to read: a $20 donation covers one child for a year, or one can serve as a reader. Or I can be a Big Brother or Big Sister or help through iMentor.
Okay, so I won’t be eating yogurt because it gives me indigestion, but one of my Christmas donations was to Reach Out and Read. Since children’s literacy is one of my core causes, I was glad to be reminded of this fine organization and I felt I had made a small contribution to the good of this world.
From Alistair Cooke, one of my favorite quotes:
In the best of times, our days are numbered anyway. So it would be a crime against nature for any generation to take the world crisis so solemnly that it put off enjoying those things for which we were designed in the first place: the opportunity to do good work, to enjoy friends, to fall in love, to hit a ball, and to bounce a baby.
In my case, not putting off enjoying things will mean seeing all the interesting and beautiful things I can, drinking good wine, and eating good food.
This phrase has been used in numerous speeches and verses and I like the sound of it:
Be of good cheer.
Charles M. Blow. “The Anti-Inauguration.” The New York Times. 5 Jan. 2017.
Nicholas Kristof. “A 12-Step Program for Responding to President-Elect Trump.” The New York Times. 17 Nov. 2016.
Image © Melissa Corcoran.