Here we are at another New Year’s Eve. Don’t worry, I won’t be lamenting my New Year’s Eve Millenium nightmare (I won’t even link it.) I’m not sad. I’m just…different this year.
Along with most of the world, or at least the rest of the world I follow on social media, I joined in the sentiment that 2016 was the suckiest of sucky years in my 43 spent wearing this skin suit. I mean, losing Abe Vigoda and Harambe were bad enough, did you have to take Gordie Howe too?
In a year that featured way too much tragedy, I think the losses of so many celebrities my Generation X grew up with was sort of a wake up call to our own mortality, and that made many of us drink more than usual. (I know, hard to believe that is possible in my case.) There was also an immense feeling of hopelessness over the situation in Aleppo, more mass shootings, civil rights issues, and for fuck’s sake this election was a joke. For an empath like me, the feelings of fear and uneasiness in virtually everyone I encountered was overwhelming at times. I think that is how I spent most of the year, feeling overwhelmed.
But as I’ve been reflecting on my own experiences in 2016, I discovered that my 2016 really wasn’t that bad. I’ve had much worse in recent years. I think most of my jokes about 2016 looking like Death from The Seventh Seal were really just manifestations of the emotions I was absorbing from others. My year wasn’t spectacular. There were no strippers. There was no sex. My beloved Chelsea finished 10th in the Premier League. I’d give the year a 6 out of 10. Which in Donald Trump’s world, may as well look like a rotting mummy corpse.
On the positive side, I left one miserable job for a better paying, slightly less miserable job. Sure, I wanted to cry every day for the first six months and tried to leave, but it also paid me well enough to take a vacation to anywhere I want in 2017. They just don’t give me the vacation days to do it. I still have my health, and I was reminded often this year that it can change at any minute so I’d better give thanks for it. My family is doing well. My dog finally walks on a leash without looking like Cujo at passersby. I finished my screenplay. Really, seriously finished it after 6 edits. I mapped out the sequel, and I’m halfway done with that. Once that is in the editing stage I can shop them both, one step closer to achieving the goal of having my full story told.
The big accomplishment for 2016, though, was taking my post-divorce solo vacation. The one lesson I took away from it is that I need to stop waiting and start living. I am famous for saying things like “I can finish my screenplay as soon as I get a better job” or “I can go to an ice hotel when I have a boyfriend to go with” or “When I lose 10 pounds I’ll start dating again.” No. Enough waiting.
If there was one epiphany moment on my trip, it was when my tour in Iceland stopped at a glacier. I really wanted to walk on a glacier, but I didn’t give myself enough time this trip. I will go back and do it though, that is a given. It was a windy, rainy day and about 45 degrees. To get to the glacier, you have to hike up a rocky path about a mile or maybe two. I didn’t make it all the way so I can’t say for certain. I kept stopping along the way to take photos along with two college girls from my tour group. We were all complaining about how miserable the conditions were, and speculating whether the two large older women on our tour would quit before attempting the glacier walk they mistakenly signed up for.
Just about at the time we had to head back to our bus, a group of about 15 people came around the bend. They were led by a young man, probably about 20 years old with crutches. From a distance, he appeared to have cerebral palsy or some similar affliction. His dad was holding on to him for support and the rest of his group stayed behind him. He was moving very slowly, but looked thrilled beyond words that he was doing this hike. His family and friends kept cheering him on. Well, I felt like the biggest asshole on the planet for whining about the weather. I, too, went to Iceland to see a glacier up close and I was physically capable of doing it, albeit not entirely dressed for it, and I wanted to quit because of a little rain and wind. Right then and there was the moment I decided to change my attitude and appreciate the freedom and opportunities I have.
Several hours later, the last stop on my 9 hour tour was at Seljalandsfoss waterfall. If you hike up another rocky path (with no safety railings or even a warning that you might lose your footing and plunge to a rocky death), you can walk behind the waterfall. Again, it was rainy and windy and the temperature had dropped so you could see your own breath at this point. But I soaked it all in, along with 10 pounds of water. This is the face of someone who says “I worked damn hard to get here, and look at me! I’m in freaking Iceland!”
I don’t need anyone else to make these things happen. And since tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone, I won’t wait any longer to start living my dreams. Thank you, 2016, for giving me that push.
I wish that 2017 brings you all a great moment of clarity as well. Thanks for following me this year. I appreciate every one of you, and promise to return to my not-so-serious posts.