This year is finished – and by virtually everyone’s account, it’s been something else! Between celebrity deaths, the most unfortunate presidential election ever known to the USA, natural disasters, and so much more… I think most of us are ready to say good-bye to 2016, even if we’re apprehensive about what 2017 might bring.
At the close of 2015 I published a post (which can be accessed by clicking here) in which I discussed how we keep moving – regardless of whether we want to or whether we feel able to, or anything else. We keep moving. It’s our only choice. And that lack of choice is something we ought to be glad for. Had we the option NOT to move forward, things – all of life, actually – would likely come to a grinding halt and then be more miserable than our worst day imaginable.
According to many sources, personal and professional, I’ve gathered that 2017 is arriving with very great risks. Donald Trump is about to be the President, terrorist attacks like the horror of 9/11 are already statistically more likely than they have been in a decade (thanks to him skipping so many intelligence briefings like George W. did), who knows where the national or global economies will go, and god knows what else we might be in store for. When considering all these things and more, there’s plenty of reason to be scared or at a minimum pessimistic about the next calendar year. But let’s not – or at least, let’s try not.
I was last night playing board games with some of my nephews. Often, when I’m around them watching them be who they are memories of my own youth come to mind. Things were so different. We were spanked whenever we misbehaved. We felt lucky to have some of the technology they take totally for granted – and we almost had to earn it (having a TV in my bedroom was a REAL treat), whereas they simply expect it. They say and do and watch and hear things that my brothers and I weren’t allowed to say or do or watch or hear. And they don’t blink at any of it. And I’m sure that when I was younger, those who were in older generations thought the very same of me and my brothers and cousins. How easy we had it. How spoiled we were.
Every generation experiences life differently from the way the one before it did, and despite the constant known as change, this isn’t likely to change. The real matter at hand is whether that which has come and gone can be let go of in favor of that which has arrived. As I spend time with the nephews and practically marvel at the (new) life they seem to be experiencing, I can lament that they sometimes call me “Josh” instead of “Uncle Josh” or I can move with it – perhaps being especially thankful of the times when they use my title while refusing to get stuck on the times they don’t. (I wouldn’t in a hundred years think to call my uncles or aunts by first name only, and to this day still address them using their familial titles. Even in my own generation, between my siblings and I, we often call each other by our relational titles instead of using our names.)
I think it’s wise to do the same as we depart from 2016. We could go on about how things were. We could likewise get our panties in a bunch about the direction we think we see things headed. But it seems to me that the wisest, most productive, and most responsible approach is to value how things were while letting it all go and also being glad for as much as we can while we do the only thing we can do – move forward.
Quite frankly, I’d not be surprised at all if 2017 saw the world spin off its axis and fling itself into our Sun. Seems awfully par for the course at this point. 2016 may well have been a terrible year, in general. But my heart organ experienced so much beauty and consequently knows so much gratitude and growth. In the same way my generation has been the foundation for the next, 2016 is what 2017 will stand on. I encourage you to welcome it as openly as you can, allowing for it to unfold as it will – with its own beauty and growth.
In the spirit of leading by example, I’d like to share here some pics I’ve taken throughout 2016 (and maybe late 2015?) which show some of my most cherished moments and people. (My apologies for some of them being a bit grainy.) There are so many pics, you’re likely to get bored – but keep scrolling. You might just see yourself featured. As we welcome 2017, all the grace that is mine to give I gladly forward on to you.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti