Monday, December 31, 2012

Hope, Belief, and Happiness

Okay, so it's the last day of the year and I suppose it's the time to do some sort of retrospective or, barring that, to make bold predictions for the new year. Whatever. I'm just not much in the mood for that. The year has been spectacular for me truth to tell, but I don't want to go over the past tonight. As for predicting what I will and won't do over the next 365, well, one of the reasons that this year has been great is that I'm learning not to try and plan things so much. I'm just here, in this moment, trying to absorb what's really going on.

So, if those two things won't work, then what's a third way? Third way. That makes me think of a political movement from a couple years ago. I think Bill Clinton was big in it. The idea was to break the gridlock in politics by having a new way of looking at things, a centrist position that could actually govern. The fact that I'm having trouble remembering if it is still around shows the viability of third ways in our culture right now.

My past year has been about finding third ways. I've had a long habit of extremism. Things aren't bad for the moment, they're signs of the apocalypse. Incremental change isn't enough, I need revolution. These have been the things I've gone in for. It's too difficult to put up with the bad moment and understand that it's not the way things will be forever on end. It's way too difficult to make small changes and wait for the big effects. And yet, that's what I'm learning to do and the results, as I said, have been spectacular for me.

This gives me hope that there is room for similar change on a global scale. I really can't believe that we will continue to destroy the planet and come to live in some post-apocalyptic world. I remember as a child that there were all these warnings about how we would have nuclear war. I didn't believe them. I just figured that clearer heads would prevail. So too with the climate. I'm trying to do something about it, and it's a good thing to concentrate on in the next year, and I know I'm not the only one. I just believe that people will wise up.

The Tea Party is falling apart and that too is a good sign. I don't mean any particular venom toward any one group of people, but the Tea Party is a bunch of radical extremists whose zealotry is rivaled only by the Taliban. We don't need that kind of nuttiness in this country and it seems as though that's becoming the prevailing opinion.

Maybe the next thing to fall will be the cable news programs. We can only hope.

I guess the thing for me is that I'm hopeful without believing in any one big change that I can point to on the calendar. I'm not making predictions that 2013 is the year we...whatever. Instead, I'm saying that things will generally get better. We have had some tough times including a world-wide depression, lots of war, and Taylor Swift. While I'm sure that things could get even worse, I tend to believe that we're making our way up out of the trough.

In the other room right now, my family is watching an old sitcom from my wife's youth. She was raised on (and by) television and likes to share pieces of her childhood with our girls. The three of them are happy and safe in there.

I have excused myself from that room to do this writing. In the past I would have felt too guilty about doing that, as if I was rejecting them or as if they would hold it against me. I'll finish these words, post them, and return to the den to catch the last few minutes of the show and cuddle on the couch with the girls.

Which is to say that I know things will be alright. I trust that I can take time to do some writing and still be in the family. I haven't absented myself as I once did. I can leave a room and still be bathed in love.

Not this past year, but a few years ago I was lost and helpless, looking in all the wrong places for my happiness. This year I came to understand more about happiness than I have in the 43 years previous. It has been a great year, one that has filled me with so much hope that I just know things are going to get better for me, for you, for all of us. There's nothing else in the world worth believing other than that. And the best part is that it's up to me to make it happen. And you. And all of us.

My first step in that process, to write on.

Happy New Year!