OK, 2016, there’s the door. Don’t let it whack you in the fanny on the way out, you miserable sod.
Rarely have I felt so much dark energy as these past twelve months have brought, and I gather from Facebook and the evening news that I am not alone in feeling this. 2016 for me was one long too-much-of-everything-bad, a remorseless barrage of the tragic, the humiliating, the enraging, and the desperate.
I am left feeling vulnerable in ways not easily explained. I woke up one morning to find my country is not the place I thought it was. I woke up another morning to find one of my closest friends had died, and now my world is not the place I knew. I woke up on a third morning and for a few minutes it seemed I might lose the sight in my left eye, so now my body is not the one I’ve been able to trust.
After spending 32 years in a classroom struggling to convince kids that words matter, that clarity of thought and grace of expression matter, that being good-hearted and trying one’s best matters, I feel profoundly stupid for lying to my students all those years. In a world where “bigly” (redacted to “big league”), “yuge,” “loser,” and “disaster” can constitute 80% of the vocabulary of a man who can lie his way to the presidency, I worked my fifteen-year-olds far too hard. In fact, most of them could have stopped studying literature and composition, science, history, and government after third grade with no apparent detriment to any future political ambitions.
So, 2017, here’s what I’d like to see from you, bambino:
- Enough snow to make skiers, sledders, mushers, schoolchildren and their teachers happy, but not enough to make winter an endurance sport for the rest of us. No ice storms, please.
- An early spring, a long summer that is well-balanced between cool and hot, and wet and dry, and a lingering autumn in which to enjoy the rich harvest. And, 2017, if you could bring back some of the little brown bats, that would be heart-lifting, because I miss them.
- Flourishing health for friends and family. More weddings, more grandchildren, more pets, more celebration of old friendships.
- Less sorrow all around. Many of us have had all we can take for awhile.
- Some help in remembering that I cannot shoulder every burden, try to do something about every problem, or feel guilty about everything that’s going to hell in the world.
For the rest, 2017, if you could give me a victory in the Super Bowl for the Patriots, and Aaron Sorkin to return to television and write new episodes of The West Wing, we can have a great time together.