Happy New Year To You All.
This week, walking around town, shopping and seeing friends, exchanging many e-mails, I have greeted people with a simple greeting "Happy New Year," as I have done all of my life, expecting a similar response.
This year, so many times, face to face, online, I have gotten a different response: May God Help Us," was one. "This will not be a Happy New Year," was another. "I doubt it,' was a third. "Just pray," said another. Or, "are you kidding?"
People have the right to their beliefs, yet I confess this seems somewhat rude and selfish to me. All they really need to say is thanks. I could not in good conscience wish anyone a bad year.
To be fair, a number of people answered very positively and hopefully, but I realized that in my conscious mind, in the world in which I mostly live and interact and was raised and worked for years, a lot of people are not expecting a Happy New Year, and can't even try to be gracious or hopeful about it.
The irony for me is that so many of my friends went a different way, saw the world differently, and I didn't know it or even suspect it. I am not angry or disappointed with them, I am somewhat disappointed in me. I don't care to be so out of touch, and I do not blame others for my own shortcomings.
This makes me weary and sad, but not discouraged. Lament is tiresome to me.
I am looking ahead to a very happy and productive New Year, and am both hopeful and open-minded about it. For me, the truth is I have no idea what kind of year other people will have, I can only speak for the kind of year I expect to have and intend to have.
And that is one full of creativity, love, community, creativity and purpose. A good year.
Morality and judgment, wrote the moral philosopher Hannah Arendt, concerns the individual in his or her singularity. It is not about political parties, ambitious politicians, the left or the right, feckless journalists, corporate media moguls, mobs of any season, ideologues, hysterics or trolls.
To be an individual is good and hard work these days.
The question is not what they will do, but what I will do.
This living with myself is more than a stance or argument. It is about being myself, my very identity. My voice to the world.
The year 2016 humbled me and taught me many good things and also taught me how much I did not know, how disconnected I was from so many things, how long I have lived in a predictable and banal consciousness that may not be relevant to our world, or perhaps, even to me. My mind is open.
My way of looking at the world is up for review, on the table. I can no longer take it for granted. And I won't.
Humility is about being humble, it is the opposite of hubris, arrogance and narcissism. Sometimes, I don't know. Those are the words of enlightenment. It is time to admit what I do not know and haven't seen, not to scold or preach or wring my hands.
I never looked to Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or any politician to determine the kind of 2017 I might have, I won't turn that responsibility over to anyone else. I am a believer Liberty and Self-Determination, the individual in his or her sovereignty.
It is my right and responsibility alone to decide what kind of year I will work for and hope for.
Creativity and meaning are not about letting others tell me what to think.
They are about learning how to think in a moral and rational way. No one can take my spirit and dignity from me. Those things live inside of me, they are not for anyone to grant.
Our very fickle and lazy media is filled with dire warnings and Apocalyptic predictions, they are making boatloads of money off of hysteria and alarm.
Since they have all been utterly wrong about everything that has happened for the past few years in our country, I don't see why I should trust them to believe that the end of the world is near.
I am eager to greet 2017 and to live it.
I will be writing another book, publishing my blog faithfully, working to establish the new life of the writer, taking my photos, loving Maria, watching my granddaughter grow, running with dogs and donkeys, walking in the woods, making good friends, loving my Mothers, the Earth, The Farm.
In short, loving and living my life.
I am connecting to nature, talking to animals and listening to them, hugging trees, learning to love sheep.
My own core values are not in danger, no matter what anyone else might do or not do. I don't argue my beliefs. Right or wrong, they are simply mine.
Our president deserves the chance to reveal and explain himself. I under-estimated him and do not understand him. That will take a while. As many people have found hope and promise as have found despair and anguish. I want to see what they see.
I will be at the Mansion with Red, helping a refugee family soon to arrive in America, thinking of ways to give hope to the poor and yearning, using my blog and photographs to commit small acts of goodness. We will be doing more hospice work, helping people at the edge of life to leave the world in dignity.
I cannot solve or even fully comprehend issues like climate change, nuclear arms, the great political schisms tearing at the world. Human beings will decide their own destiny.
I can only live my own life as well as I can, and make whatever statements and arguments I have to make through my life and deeds, not my Facebook or Twitter posts.
Many of my values are being questioned. That is not something to be gloomy about, it does not mean 2017 will be a terrible year. It could be one of the most important in my life.
I will think of Mother Earth, I will seek to be compassionate and empathetic. That is all I can do, it is plenty. One thing at a time, one step at a time, one idea at a time. I am more than hopeful, and overjoyed to be alive.
To my many gloomy friends and companions who cannot wish me a Happy New Year without qualification and lament, my heart aches a bit for you, I am so sorry you feel that way. It is up to you, of course.
I hope you find your way to the light. I can't join you in this dark way of greeting the New Year. A wise man told me once to never speak poorly of my life, it might well be listening. So might the new year.
Life is an unfathomable gift, every single hour of it, and I have wasted enough of my life on anger and fear. I won't waste another second. It was Grandma Moses, I believe, who said that life is what you make of it, and my intention for 2017 is to have a wonderful and meaningful year.
I am expecting pain and suffering as well as joy and love, that is the nature of life. 2017 is what I will make of it, and I intend to make the most of it.
I wish you all a Happy New Year, and I pray it is bright and full of hope and promise.