2016 was difficult but it was also good. Some shitty, horrible, heart-breaking things happened but it was not the infamous "#worstyearever."
I've learned a lot about myself as an individual (and a small amount about executing self-care), a lot about what it means to exist relationally/ with intentionality, and a lot about what I value in myself and others, who I want to surround myself with, and who I want to strive to become.
I think our broader communities and societies have learned a lot about what it means to fight for justice, to give voice to the oppressed and to show our support, to protect what is sacred, to stand up against what we believe to be wrong, to amplify love in the midst of hate, to choose to live vulnerably and to admit our brokenness to each other even when it’s tempting to appear like we’re self-sufficient and totally fine, to act selflessly and care for those who are in need, to persevere when things look rough, and to find ways to make positive changes even when they are small and may seem insignificant. This year had bad things (all years do) but it also had loads of good come from it. And I think history has shown that times of significant difficulty open us up to being more loving than we were before; we are often not challenged to step up when we are in our comfort zone. A ‘the stars shine best in the darkness’ sort of thing.
So, yes, I am welcoming 2017 with open arms: the liminal space offered by the change of calendar years provides us with a sort of clean slate, and with new energy. We can use this to become better versions of ourselves and to work together to create better (move loving, more inclusive, less selfish) communities. But I’m not running away from 2016 as if I want nothing to do with it, or as if I want to pretend it didn’t leave a mark on me. It did. It has shaped me. It was not always sunshine and rainbows, and yet I have reason to smile. (Wouldn't you say the same?)
Least I seem overly-optimistic, let me reveal my stoic/realist-tendencies via this photo.
Also: not totally related, but I am really appreciating this excerpt from Seneca's letters.
Let's not fear what we don't need to.
"There are more things, Lucilius, likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality. [...] What I advise you to do is, not to be unhappy before the crisis comes; since it may be that the dangers before which you paled as if they were threatening you, will never come upon you; they certainly have not yet come. Accordingly, some things torment us more than they ought; some torment us before they ought; and some torment us when they ought not to torment us at all. We are in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining, or anticipating, sorrow.
[...] Do me the favour, when men surround you and try to talk you into believing that you are unhappy, to consider not what you hear but what you yourself feel, and to take counsel with your feelings and question yourself independently, because you know your own affairs better than anyone else does.
[...] It is likely that some troubles will befall us; but it is not a present fact. How often has the unexpected happened! How often has the expected never come to pass!
[...]The mind at times fashions for itself false shapes of evil when there are no signs that point to any evil; it twists into the worst construction some word of doubtful meaning; or it fancies some personal grudge to be more serious than it really is[...]. But life is not worth living, and there is no limit to our sorrows, if we indulge our fears to the greatest possible extent[...]There is nothing so certain among these objects of fear that it is not more certain still that things we dread sink into nothing[...]."