So, that was pretty much 2016, then.
I don’t buy this conventional, and increasingly annual, narrative that 2016 was a “bad year”. True, elections have gone not the way many wanted – though perhaps not surprisingly – in Europe and the USA, with significant consequences for many. Although the roots for much of this grew through political and popular ignorance between 2008 and 2010, but that’s another bitter story.
And it’s also true that many famous people have died, though this happens every year. And many other bad things have happened around the world, and climate change has gone quite possibly past the point of reversibility, making this probably the last century of a civilisation of many, as opposed to a few (or less), billions. Nature always wins the long game, and perhaps deservedly so. It’s not “our” planet, anyway. Never was.
But looking back 2014 was also summarized by many (and many media outlets, especially online) as a terrible year. As was 2015.
And, no doubt 2017 will be as well; a combination of Trump being inaugurated POTUS and a few famous people dying in January will lead to headlines of “2017: as terrible as 2016”. Betcha.
You’re alive as you are reading this. So 2016 could have been a lot, fatally, worse for you. Maybe seriously bad things happened; ill health to yourself (or just your body making pointed reminders about mortality) or those you are close to, or unexpected and hard to bear deaths.
Or less financial security, or freedom to move. Or your social fabric slowly aged and came apart a little, or around the time of a referendum or election, rather a lot. Or the realisation that the comfortable echo chamber you sat in on social media is not the predominant echo chamber. These things have happened to more than a few people in this year ending.
But, again, you’re still alive. You survived 2016 – literally – but no t-shirt. Your reward is to have a go at level 2017 in the Game of Life. That game usually finishes when either your body gives out, or climate change seriously and fatally affects your environment, and getting through 2017 will be more of a challenge for most than previous years.
And here on this rock, more than a few of the current inhabitants may have a brutal education in the science around food supply chains and networks, for example. Nature, reap, sow, etc. But I digress…
Yet again you are still alive, so your 2016 could have been a lot worse. Tot up the good times that you had, and you may be surprised. That’s a reason I still take pictures of walks out in the countryside, good meals, fun and interesting events attended, nice sunsets and the like (the other reason being that as one ages, one simply forgets).
When you read the paper (not advised), turn on the television (ditto) or go onto social media (cautionary for information quality), it’s pretty much relentlessly bad stuff and (very unscientific alert) gradually bangs your neurons into an “everything, 24/7, was crap” configuration. The pictures tell an accurate truth, instead of a 2016 post-truth, though.
(Though on reflection, the big and small screens have not been bad if you looked for the diamonds amongst the rough. Rogue One was the adult Star Wars film I realised I’ve been waiting 39 years to see. Above all, Blue Eyes was the series which foretold and gave a warning for 2016. And next year…)
So go back through whatever you’ve recorded – a diary, pictures on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or (for us oldies) Flickr, a blog (some of us still do), postings on MetaFilter or Reddit or whatever platform, and note and remember the good things, and the interesting, quirky and strange things you did. You may be surprised how many there were for you in 2016. “But these are little things and Trump and Brexit and Climate Change were massive things”. True, but that’s the collective mind telling you, again, that everything was bad for you when it wasn’t.
Wishing you a Happy Christmas, and a 2017 full of more good things.