I had an interesting response to my last blog post from a good friend of mine.
She was worried that I sounded down.
When I went back and reread the post I didn't think it sounded down at all. So I did what I do and challenged her. She responded by saying that the post seemed as if there was no hope.
I wouldn't say that there is no hope but I do believe people are kidding themselves if they think we are moving into a period of global stability, collective happiness, and drive to improve the world because most observers would say the signs point in the opposite direction.
So what gives me hope?
This is a picture that my friend Amy posted. She lives in the Boston area. She is a knitter. So far she had knit more than 10 of these pussy hats for friends and family to wear at anti-Trump rallies on January 21st.
Quiet people posting JPGs like this gives me hope:
I am a member of a few facebook groups which give me hope - people are supporting one another. They talk about their act of defiance in the face of hateful actions and comments.
In the face of looming darkness we can either look away or stand up to it. The act of standing up to it gives me hope. I encourage you to be hopeful as well.
Yesterday was 'de-Christmas the house day'. Paul was at work and I was loading up the Christmas totes with decorations to put away for another 11 months. More than once I contemplated how much work was involved in this annual task. I was resting between 'decorations' and 'stripping the trees', enjoying some good reading (my newest obsession - the mysteries of Louise Penny) when I overheard the kids outside setting out the rules for a street hockey game:
'It's everyone for themselves'.
It struck me that this was a fine epitaph for 2016.
By most accounts 2016 was a bad year.
Fine, maybe it was no 1520, 1914 or 1943. There was no outbreak of smallpox, no start of a world war, no Holocaust at its most atrocious. We did not lose 1/3 of the world's population to the Black Death.
This year was a walk in a dewy meadow compared to 66 million years ago when the Chicxulub asteroid obliterated life around Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It was a warm breeze compared to 1348, 1837, 2001 and so many horror shows in between.
But based on any mood metric, based on the number of times we now sigh while skimming the news, this year sucked. It just sucked.
There were moments of good tidings in our lives - we got married, I got a new job (although the jury is still out on that being good or not LOL), we got a dream car, we had an awesome trip to New York, Bermuda, and Montreal . . . there was lots of laughter. All the same though, there was plenty of sadness and toil. I attended more funerals and funeral home visitations last year than I have in my life. There were plenty of times where we just hung on . . . hoping to get through whatever it was we were going through and make it to the other side. In fact, I think there were weeks on end where we lost sight of what 'normal' was.
I know personally that I had to fight like hell to find the time to attach myself to the things that bring me joy in life, that restore my balance.
So yes, 2016 sucked. we can argue all day about how badly it sucked and I am sure you can present to me all sorts of shining moments on a silver platter, lifting the lid to reveal something hopeful. I do believe that those 'ah' moments were greatly outnumbered by the moments of horror.
One of the things that strikes me is how we have lost the ability to see beyond our own basic needs. . . we have become a 6 month old baby. Our hunger, anger, hurt rules.
It really is everyone for themselves.
You knew I'd get there eventually. :-)
The world has become a mean, ugly, cynical, mistrustful place. Sure, this has been growing for some time but 2016 was where we saw the impact on the world stage. People in droves voted against positive change, a more humane global existence, peace, green prosperity, their kids and the future. A lot has been written about how people have been left behind by the economy - people are struggling. The greatest irony in this to me is that they rewarded the very people who created this suffering with strong political mandates and turned their backs across the planet on potential regimes who might be able to help them, who had tried for years to help them in the face of great political opposition.
There was a great article in the Washington Post the other day that compared our current geo-political climate to the time just before the outbreak of World War 1. We have unstable regimes, political alliances are frayed, nations are acting in an unpredictable manner, cooperation is waning and governments are looking inward.
It seems that we humans have an innate need to relive the worst of our history every few generations.
I think I have been most shocked at the rise of hate; suddenly it seems there are folks who think it is OK to attack people verbally and even physically because they are different from them. People don't want to help one another. There is a great suspicion.
Some Christians have completely lost sight of what it actually means to be Christian.
A new norm is being created and it is self-centered and frankly, rather ugly.
Lately I have been thinking of my friends with children and how hard it must be to raise children to be hopeful when there is so little hope in the world right now.
So there you are. 2016 is gone. 2017 does not look great at all. I do not for a second think that things will get better any time soon. I hope we can grab on to the brighter side of human existence and use that to get through the ugliness that unfortunately awaits.
The other day I took mom, Paul, and Rose into the city for an evening out. We started off at the office - they wanted a tour and they received the full hour-long version. Easy to do when the office is closed and there are no distractions.
We had a good dinner at il Fornello (although I wasn't able to eat most of mine thanks to the lasting effects of this damn flu).
Then we saw the musical Come From Away - an improbable musical about the days after 9-11. Imagine - a musical about 9-11. The very thought is almost a repugnant insult.
Except this story is not really a tale of mayhem and death rather it latches onto the better sides of the human psyche . . . hope, helpfulness, and looking out for one another.
The show tells the tale of how the citizens of Gander, Newfoundland welcomed almost 7,000 grounded travelers and the crews from 38 planes which were redirected to the town airport in the hours after the 9-11 terrorist attacks after the US closed its airspace. I had read rave reviews of the show as it was developed over the past few years - first as a part of the Sheridan College theatre incubation project and then as it was refined in studio in La Jolla, Seattle, and Washington DC. The Toronto show is the last stop before the play opens on Broadway.
The underlying theme to the play is the extraordinary efforts ordinary people can take when they see a need and the lasting impacts of these efforts. In the scary and uncertain times following 9-11 the citizens of Gander and the surrounding towns welcomed the stranded passengers from those 38 grounded planes and transformed them. The true Canadian spirit - optimistic helpers who get things done against seemingly insurmountable odds - was the central theme to this play. It is a role we find joy in and play on the world stage.
Lately this is something I have reflected upon a fair bit.
Service to others.
It is a significant part of my familial DNA. Always in the background, quiet . . . but ever present. We do not run for office - that would be too much, but we do join in if necessary or even work independently to try and get things done. This service can present itself in odd ways at times. It has been the source of laughter, stress, and considerable comfort over the years.
I find as I grow older (something I plan on writing about in the future as I have been reflecting a lot on age for some weird reason) it is people being kind to one another in unplanned and unexpected ways that elicits a strong emotional response in me. When I read a new story about a stranger helping out a stranded family when they were in desperate need I can be moved to tears.
This is one of the key trickles of glue which holds us together as a global tribe. It is one of the things we will need to nurture, celebrate, and encourage over the coming years as the world seems to be moving down a dark and mean path.
Now back to that play . . .
The show was fabulous. One of the best theatre productions I have ever seen . . . and I have seen many. I would say 'go and see it' but the reality is it closes in a week and if you did not buy tickets back in October you are SOL.
If you're able I'd suggest go to Broadway and see it.
Now that brings up an interesting thought - how will a play which is as sweet as Canadian Grade A Maple Syrup play in New York? It has been suggested that Broadway might be a bit to cynical for this tale of infinite goodness. Then again, given the mood growing in the US right now it could be just the thing to remind New Yorkers of their shining moments of togetherness where their collective good made a difference when faced with great evil.
Being sick on vacation always seems like you've been shortchanged but sick on Christmas vacation takes the feeling to a new level.
You're supposed to be visiting with friends and family, laughing, drinking, eating rich food, yet you can barely raise your body out of bed and are spending most of your day staring down at the business end of a commode.
I won't get all gross here but I could. Oh baby, I could.
Any interaction you do have with real people is taught and fraught with crankiness welling up at unpredictable moments. This I know because Paul told me. Nicely, but I was told. ;-)
I broke one of our family rules - I didn't shave. This was big. We males were taught to shave. Daily. Twice a day if we needed to. It could be the end of the world, buildings toppling to the ground, but the males in our clan would face it with a smooth jawline.
The good news is that I am feeling almost human today.
I spent the entire day yesterday moving from the couch to bed. I read. I played games on my iPad. I watched Harry Potter movies. In short I lived the live of a 12 year old . . . and it was OK - being an adult is a lot of work.
Yesterday was the first day there was no puking involved.
A positive sign.
Today our plan is to head into the city with mom and Rose. They will get the grand tour of the office. After a suitable level of ohhsss and ahhhhhs we will head to the theatre district for dinner at an Italian restaurant and to take in 'Come From Away' at the newly renovated Royal Alexandra Theatre.
I am sure this exertion will have may laying in bed for the next two days but that is OK.
We left the snow behind and headed to California for a long weekend of fun. We shoppedm toured wineries, tasted olive oil, met up with good friends, and ate some wonderful food. I can't wait for slow bowl 2009.