Another year come and gone. For some time I've traditionally made a New Years post here, even when I haven't been blogging actively, which I certainly have not been doing this past year. And while writing more is on my list of things to do for this year, making a big introspective post on this the most inward-focused of days is not actually that exciting a prospect. But I can't resist the opportunity to point out something that I noticed over the last three or four days of 2014.
Many people--perhaps a majority--on my Facebook feed seem not have had a particularly good 2014. I had my ups and downs; it wasn't a year where I accomplished as much as I wanted, but it was a year when I started some really big projects. It's easy for me to complain that I didn't do this or I didn't do that, that I suffered this or that setback (certainly true), that I once again put off this or that big life goal (also true). But these things are always true. And I suspect, on reading through the things people were saying about 2014, that this was true for most. No, it wasn't a great year. It also wasn't terrible. Some folks I know did have a rotten 2014, but for most people, what it really was, the strongest nail in 2014's unlamented coffin, is that it was just more of the same. The same tendencies and habits ruled our lives. The same worries kept us up nights, and the same complaints drove our friends and family crazy. Deep-rooted patterns that can't be undone in a week or a month with a fervent resolution remained in our lives and we did not change them. In 2014, what most of us did--and what was so dissatisfying--is the same thing we were doing in 2013, and 2012, and every other year. 2014 is not a year when we grew or a changed much. But that is true every year. It will be true in 2015, too. That's the nature of life.
That's not meant to be depressing. That we can look at ourselves and see where we need to change and improve and grow is great benefit. We first world types give ourselves grief for complaining about little things when billions of people don't have clean water...but that's the great good fortune of our lives. We can complain that we don't care for our jobs, avoid the gym too often, need to eat better, and spend too much time on Facebook, because we don't have to worry about other things. Is it depressing that in our lives of plenty we still find things we would like to change? No! Gracious, what would we become if we decided we were all satisfied with what we have simply because we know, deep down, that we have enough, indeed more than enough, to survive and be happy? We should consider our tendency to be negative about ourselves as a great driving force that can better the world, if only we learn how to harness it.
Maybe what 2014 was, then--and I'll say this, outside in the world at large, it was dreadful, almost all the news was terrible and our leaders made everything worse--was a year when we all collectively realized we--we as individuals, we as a community, and we as a collective humanity--can do better, and there's no reason why we shouldn't. What a fantastic thing that would be for us as people and our world at large.
Yesterday and today, then, my friends who'd been negative the previous few days suddenly switched tunes. It's traditional to bring in a new year with a sense of hope and optimism. I wondered based on the negativity I was seeing whether that would be true this year. It was. Most of us are glad to see the back of 2014, but I note that many more of us are glad to see the start of something new. That after a dissatisfying year our sense of optimism still abounds is the best news I've seen in a long time.
So, then, what about Smitty? What are Smitty's goals in 2015? Why, they're the same as all of yours. I want to be a bit more the person I can be and a bit less the person I too often am. I want to travel more, sit home less, write more, click less, experience more, buy less. I want to interact more in the real world and less in the digital one; and, late in the summer when all is dreary and I feel like the year hasn't gone the way I'd hoped, I want to remember that 2015 started on a happy note, and that my ability to be critical and dissatisfied is not greater than my ability to change.
Now I'm off to start the new year right, surrounded by friends and good times. Happy 2015, everybody.