Actor, author and genius Hollywood script doctor Carrie Fisher has died. Princess Leia’s death punctuates (Hopefully — as of this writing, there are three more days in 2016*) a year that seems to have picked off beloved celebrities one by one. It was also a year that saw a brutal and divisive presidential election in the U.S., the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, public killings in France and Germany, an assassination in Turkey and record temperatures.
Here in Seattle, tensions have mounted between neighborhoods and the city government over the mayor’s development plans and his well-intentioned but heavy handed attempts to improve the inclusivity of advisory community organizations. Which is to say nothing of the continuing influx of new Seattleites and divisive public isssues like the (now slain) North Precinct “bunker.”
By show of hands, who is just absolutely relieved it’s about to be 2017?
It’s funny how a simple change in number turns our minds toward regeneration and renewal. The difference between years is but a day’s passing. But the annuality of the progress makes it just rare enough to seem like magic.
There isn’t a single thing wrong with that feeling. It’s probably why so many people use the new year as occasion to make resolutions for self-improvement. It’s a noble thing for people to set goals for themselves and seek betterment.
Of course, New Year’s resolutions can go horribly wrong. We’ve all heard the anecdotes about gym memberships skyrocketing in January, before those same gyms turn into well-funded ghost towns by February.
Optimists look at New Year’s Day and see a sudden turnover that offers an opportunity for a complete life makeover. Pessimists point out that only a day has passed, and change is no more likely than it was the day before.
Realists probably borrow a little bit from both groups.
To explain what I mean, I’m going to admit something I probably shouldn’t.
OK, here it is: Publicly, I was just as exhausted and stressed by 2016 as anyone else. But personally? 2016 was a pretty great year.
I’ll probably remember 2016 as “The Year of Goals.” I set a goal to read 40 books, and I read 53. I set a goal to train and compete in the Bonney Lake Warrior Dash, and I ran near the front of my heat. I wanted to find a great partner, and I found the best girlfriend I could ask for. I wanted to become an editor, and here I am writing to you fine folks. This was after a lifetime of nonexistent follow-through on many, many New Year’s resolutions.
So what changed?
My mindset. I lived 2016 by one easy philosophy: Set a goal in miles, but move by inches. Look ahead a year, but plan by the day.
2016 may have been hard, but it’s important for us to remember it wasn’t all bad. Years don’t exist as singular units of time by themselves. They’re made up of 365 days, some good, some bad. Maybe even mostly bad.
2017 will be no different. But if we remember to live it one day at a time, I promise (most of us) will make it through just fine.
*:...aaaaand Debbie Reynolds and the Heat Miser died immediately after I wrote that.