Pausing to Consider the New Year
It’s 2019 and the internet is abundant with resolutions. Some common ones include: exercise more/lose weight, learn a new skill/hobby, save more money/spend less, quit smoking, spend more time with family and friends, travel more, et cetera. According to a quick Google search, only about 8% of people who resolve to lose weight are successful, and about 46% of people who make a New Year’s resolution are successful.
Isn't this talk about resolutions dreadfully boring? I've always felt that any time is a good time to change your life for the better. The symbolism and tribalism associated with the New Year may or may not help you, but frankly, it doesn’t really matter. Waking up on January 1st is essentially like waking up any other day, but kudos to all you new, resolute gym-goers. Keep it up.
I make a practice of writing a poem at the end of each year (below). It allows me to pause, consider the past 365 days and fully appreciate how I have changed, how the world has changed, and how easily we forget the small(ish) things that accumulate and form a life. But first, a quick year in review:
In January, mudslides ravaged California and the winter Olympics were taking place, with Russia ousted for abusing performance enhancing drugs. In February, Michael Cohen admitted that he did pay Stormy Daniels $130,000 of his own money to keep quiet, which she clearly did not. The Eagles won the super bowl, and in typical American fashion, the city of Philadelphia went wild, destroying their own city out of pure, unadulterated…joy?
In March, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learned that President Trump fired him when he sees a tweet that reads “Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service!” Also, United Airlines is under scrutiny after a french bulldog puppy is stored in an overhead bin and perishes. Good going, United.
In April, president Trump accuses Amazon of being the biggest threat to American security, but quickly backs down because everyone knows Amazon is more powerful than Trump could ever be. Facebook also comes under scrutiny due to Russian hackers using the social media platform to mess with the 2016 election, which everyone sort of assumed had been happening all along. And in May, the media was neck deep covering the royal wedding, while Trump decides, on a whim, to withdraw from the 2015 multi-nation nuclear deal with Iran. For funsies. Finally, Roseanne Barr is racist.
In June, the president is forced to reverse his administration’s policy on separating immigrant children from their parents in response to widespread criticism. Turns out, children are people, too. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announces his decision to retire, and we’re on to July, a month that was completely shadowed by one very angry Brett Kavanaugh. Seattle bans plastic straws and utensils in a valiant attempt to influence everyone else to care about the environment.
In August, Trump doubles down on the press (fake news!) who push back in a tug-of-war sort of tirade that has not yet ended. Paul Manafort is found guilty of tax evasion, which is again, not news to anyone. In September, Hurricane Florence ravages the east coast, followed by Hurricane Michael. Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the supreme court, while the president tells the United Nations General Assembly that his administration has accomplished "more than any administration in history" (fake news!).
In October, Kanye West visits the oval office, which was for some reason, national news. Explosives are sent to a host of democratic figures, including Barack Obama and the Clintons. A violent month becomes more violent when a gunman opens fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue, resurrecting the never-dead gun debate.
In November, a record number of women are voted into congress. The Senate remains Republican and the House swings Democratic. North Korea is building missile bases, Amazon sets up shop in Arlington Virginia and New York City, and fires ravage California. Thanksgiving comes and goes without anyone being stampeded for a black Friday TV. Finally, December is completely consumed with a debate about whether or not “Baby it’s Cold Outside” alludes to rape and is therefore not safe for the radio. “Rudoph the Red Nosed Reindeer” is also under fire because the cheerful Christmas song "condones bullying." The year ends with a government shutdown, with no plausible prediction of when, or whether, it’ll be up and running again.
And at last, my poem:
the year the earth erupted in flames
torrents of rain drowning our aching, sour pain
increasing book sales, Instagram fame
icons died, and the nation cried red and
blue streaks down our matching cheeks
the year of self-defense classes, pepper spray, guns
everyone buys a gun in America
land of plenty, more is merrier
no more immigrants
no more refugees
no more healthcare or social security
the year women walked in synchrony
donning white hats and red robes
voted ourselves into congress
porn stars, litigation, Russian spies,
Facebook trolls & internet lies
the year we threw money away to build a wall
good fences make good neighbors
make our grass seem greener
make nobody safer
the year I flew home to feel whole again
placed my hands in the earth
hoping to grow a bit slower
2018 taught me to be
happy and sad simultaneously
I grieved so hard I emptied myself
laughed at my pain to scare it away
the year we all danced on thin reputations
the heft of our egos weighing us down
2018 ate too much for dinner
fell asleep at the table
and woke up to screams
chanting in unison
P.S. Did you make a New Year's Resolution?