Saturday, December 31, 2016

It's Almost 2017. Start Climbing.

Tonight at midnight we close the door on 2016. Then we triple-lock the door, seal the edges with concrete, put it on a flatbed truck, and dump it in the deepest, most remote part of the Everglades to be devoured by hungry alligators.

I hope it doesn't give you heartburn like it gave me, big fella.

And then 2016 and all of its angry, messy, mournful, jaw-dropping shenanigans will be over.

Now, to you enlightened denizens of the Internet who over the last several days have taken to smugly pointing out that it's not 2016's fault it sucked so hard because years don't work like that and arbitrary calendar milestones neither cause bad things nor prevent them from happening, I've got news for you: The extent to which some of us have personified 2016 as a sadistic boogeyman is in direct proportion to our imagination, sensitivity, and intelligence. Have fun in Literaland, Captain Obvious. Nyah.

I'll bet you think Willy Wonka is just some creeper in a frock coat, too.

I'm not going to rehash the acts of terrorism, the deaths of beloved celebrities, the political outrages that washed over us all year with ruthless regularity, like some malevolent tide under the influence of a cursed moon. You've seen them unfold just as I have. Likewise I won't elaborate on my own missteps and misfortunes, of which there were far too many for a normal year and which were all the more excruciating for being mine alone to bear. You've had your own, as well. You understand the pain, if not the particulars.

If life were an episode of "The Twilight Zone," right about now the camera would pull back to reveal our entire planet floating in an artificial atmosphere in an alien laboratory, where a couple of scientists with green skin and weird mouths are discussing the results of their yearlong experiment on this primitive world. "The more calamity and chaos we introduce to their environment," one explains, "the more they focus on trivialities rather than attempting to find common purpose to solve real problems." And the other says, "Ah, but Dr. Zilbroxx, that's your perspective. I see a race of creatures who, while savage and unsophisticated, show remarkable resilience in the face of adversity. We have much to learn about these Earthlings. And learn from them." Then Rod Serling would say some shit about the randomness of life and our insignificant place in the universe and we'd fade to black.

No doubt 2016 would have been well served by
some Rod Serling narration.

Having experienced the past year at a rate of several WTFs per second, I'm ready for a change. Arbitrary calendar milestone or not, the end of 2016 seems like a fine opportunity for some closure and some commitment to change. But not in the usual end-of-year manner. No sappy resolutions for this new year, no ridiculous goals, no to-do lists that almost certainly will never get done. Just this wish for myself, and this advice for you:

Wherever you find yourself as 2016 turns into 2017, let it be your rock bottom. Don't wait for a wake-up call. Don't justify staying in a deep rut simply because the bottom hasn't fallen out yet. On the other hand, don't become complacent about what you have. Don't believe your life is as good as it can be. Whether blessings abound or trouble looms, at this moment, make that your floor for what comes next.

Decide what you want more of, what you need less of. Forget about how far you've come, or how far you have to fall. Stand on the bedrock of right now, and start climbing. Climb for yourself, for your family, for your community. Just climb. Don't despair, and don't settle. Keep moving toward whatever lies above you.

Oh, and don't forget to stop every so often to look around and appreciate where you are. There's so much in this world that money can't buy, or fix. There's always so much more to see, to do, to give, to learn. To rise above.

Today is rock bottom for me. This time next year, I may not have reached the summit of whatever is up there, but I'll be a damn sight closer.

Happy New Year, you guys. See you in 2017.


  1. It's fitting that the sci-fi channel runs a Twilight Zone marathon at the end of the year. Last night I tuned in just in time for the arrival of the monsters on Maple Street and had to run away.
    Since I normally can't turn away from a Twilight Zone episode I take this as a sign that I'm getting out of the rut I've been in and that 2017 will be better.


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