It is 430 in the afternoon here on Oahu in Hawaii. Tonight, we celebrate the coming of the year 2016 and friends in other time zones are already at their parties. It has been a crazy year for us all and it’s nice sometimes to think about what has happened. In some ways, it helps to focus your thoughts on the future. No one knows exactly what the future will bring, but knowing what happened in the past helps you to know what you want more and less of. So as my contribution to my friend’s New Year’s Eve bash is cooking in my crockpot, I’ll reminisce and share my thoughts. Because that’s what one does at this time of year.
I’m struck by the most obvious change in my life first. Of course, if we were making a countdown list, the number one biggest thing to happen to me in 2015 was moving to Hawaii. It took up most of my thoughts and plans for the better part of this year. I knew we’d be moving around November for ages before we actually got the orders telling us where to go, and from that moment forward, it seems like all my mental effort went into this move. Now that I’m here, it seems like we could have done a few things better, but I’ll just put those lessons into our next Navy move and I’m sure it’ll go smoother. You live and you learn, right?
This past year had lots of ups and downs though. Personally, besides the big move thousands of miles away, I can’t think of much that’s of any real importance to anyone but me. A new haircut here, a new recipe there, a business adventure in the world of direct sales cosmetics and a celebration of having graduated high school ten years ago, but are all these things relevant to you? Maybe and maybe not.
What about events from the past year in a wider scope? There were inconsequential things that seemingly took the world by storm. I’m talking about those little trivial things that people liked to bring up with their friends at dinner or at the water cooler at work, but mostly seemed to be fueled by social media and then the news. Things like “the dress,” pictures of Pluto, or llamas running around a busy street made for light conversation pieces, but then I’m just left with a blank stare on my face when people mention things like the latest shenanigans of Miley Cyrus or other pop culture icons of the moment. I just don’t pay attention I guess. I’ve seen a few things pop up on my Facebook newsfeed and have no idea what people are talking about. (What is this word “bae” that people use now?) Maybe I should spend more time talking to people at the water cooler? I just did a short search online for various pop culture moments from 2015 and didn’t recognise half of the names and events. Do I just live under a rock? Or (gasp!) am I “old” now?
There were many things to add to the “bad” list of 2015 too. Some were just controversial and immoral, but many that were also terribly tragic and scary events. I don’t know if there were more than any other year or if I just noticed more around me. From terrorism both overseas and closer to home to reactions to Supreme Court decisions, from the refugee crisis to the beginning of what is going to be a long election year in 2016, from plane crashes to police brutality, there is just SO much to fuel a pessimistic world view. It is hard to be positive when so much has happened this year but maybe that is why those inconsequential things light up the Internet so often. I don’t watch the regular news anymore because it either seems to be stories that make me cry or make me wonder why Twitter was invented. If I were going to make a New Year’s resolution, it would be to stop reading the comments sections of news articles and posts. The worst sorts of people live there and reading their incendiary remarks just make me want to curl up in the shower and cry.
But think of this. What I think of as a HUGE life-changing event is really just a blip on someone else’s Facebook News Feed, isn’t it? I moved to Hawaii, for example, eight weeks ago. I was living in Connecticut one day and then Hawaii the next. It takes up a substantial part of MY 2015, but that’s just it. If you aren’t that close to me, you weren’t affected. This is something that I think about on a different level sometimes. For example, I got a traffic ticket shortly after moving here. You need to know that I’m a believer in following rules and signs, even if I don’t agree with them. (I’m a good driver, damnit!!!) So as I got back into the driving lane after the officer pulled away, I was feeling so down and just one inch tall. I cried. I imagined that everyone around me was judging me for being a horrible rule-breaking person, when in reality, I’m sure only a few people even bothered to notice. I was surrounded by people. People in cars, walking on the sidewalk, in the park nearby. But in this sea of people, I was the only one going through this Very Bad Day. In going about my daily life, I’m theoretically in contact with so many individuals who are going about their daily lives, but really, our lives by and large never touch. Think about that the next time you’re having just an average dinner out at a crowded restaurant. Next to you, maybe a couple is getting engaged or breaking up. Your inconsequential night out is like being an extra in a movie scene. How’s that for making you feel tiny?
Here’s to a more peaceful world in 2016. Why not try to be more optimistic? My Mary Kay mentor has this knack of expecting good things to happen to her. And do you know what? They always do. She’s human like the rest of us, but never says an unkind word or complaint and just knows from somewhere deep within her that good things ARE happening to her. What if we all were that way? I could get up on my soap box and rant and rave about all the things I think are wrong with this world and this society I live in. It might make me feel better but it would mostly be ignored. Instead, I’ll just know, from somewhere deep down, that 2016 will be a good year. I’ll make sure it is. You should too.