On 2016

As 2016 winds to a close, a common refrain on the Internet has been to blame the year for all of our misfortune.  John Oliver even did a bit on how terrible this year was.  And it was a bad year.  Any year in which Donald Trump is elected President is automatically a bad year.  And that’s before you take into account horrible events that happened around the world.

But then 2016 became the refrain any time a beloved celebrity died.  To be fair, we definitely lost some heavyweights this year.  And people should absolutely be allowed to mourn the loss of the artists who enriched their lives.  But to rail against a calendar year as if it were cursed is just ridiculous, and it’s a little dangerous.

This notion that years are acting for us or against us helps to create a narrative and a common antagonist, but it’s the wrong antagonist and the wrong narrative because where does it end?  I have some bad news: more celebrities are probably going to die in 2017.  And in 2018.  And so on and so forth.  An actor or musician or someone who you’ve never met but greatly influenced your life is going to die at some point.  Rather than respecting them as an individual who lives and dies like everyone else is more important than railing against a year.

Some people did have truly bad 2016s, but I’m willing to be those people suffered personal losses of some kind.  And here’s the thing: personal losses can happen in any year.  We hope that they don’t and we do our best to avoid them, but sometimes there’s nothing to be done, and tweeting “Because 2016” doesn’t make anything better.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t work to make 2017 better than 2016.  You absolutely should.  Don’t accept that resolutions were made to be broken.  Find a path to improving your life and work on it.  That’s something you can control.  That’s something where, if you’ve worked hard, you can look back at the end of 2017 and be proud of your accomplishment.  But if your metric of a year’s success is something you can’t control–like, say, which celebrities live and die–then you’re probably going to be futilely tweeting, “Screw you, 2017,” as if the universe cares about your feelings.

2016 was rough.  Don’t want 2017 to be the same?  Recognize the things that are out of your control and fight like hell to make a difference where you can.

Friday, December 30th, 2016 personal

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