Take a glance around the internet and it’s easy to see that 2016 is ending on a sour note for most of the world. Read a few year-end wrap-up posts and you’ll find many bloggers and columnists pointing out that 2016 got bad, went from bad to worse, and it all-in-all amounts to a shitty year. Authors aplenty are more excited about the new year than ever before because “this year can’t be over fast enough.” I get it. Really, I do; I was paying attention in 2016. A lot of shitty stuff happened. A lot of things that were already bad got worse. A lot of shitty stuff just won’t go away. I don’t need to list it all. We’ve been living on a steady diet of it for the last year. Rehashing it all will just feel like more acid reflux.
For the purposes of avoiding a rehash I’ve begun to skim the posts of my favorite bloggers rather than read them. It’s just for this week. I can’t take in any more blame and shame. I’m not interested in wallowing right now. I’m all for some productive/constructive introspection but I don’t think brooding over how hopeless it seems serves any kind of greater good. Yes, we fucked up a bunch of things. We’ve taken our licks for some of it and for some of it there are consequences still to come. No question. No doubt. No bullshit.
But damn, how much salt and sand must we rub into our wounds? Note to the internet—We are all sufficiently preoccupied with everything that is wrong and broken and intolerable and outrageous. We are sufficiently chastised that we suck. Thank you, internet. The point is taken. You’ve been heard. Uncle.
To be fair, not everyone is moaning or screaming or gnashing teeth. Someone posted a little graphic that said, in essence:
I wasn’t all bad.
Oh. This. This was a nice thing to post. Nice. Nice is still out there. I’ve noticed that it has begun to circulate. It seems to be inspiring folks to find some good in the last year we’ve all survived together. It also seems to be shifting the focus of folks who usually close out a year mindful of all their failures and year-long slack. After all, New Year Resolutions are generally based on changing/fixing everything that’s wrong with our lives.
The sentiment that it wasn’t (we weren’t) all so horribly bad was such an achingly simple and gentle thing to say. It feels so subtly buoyant. Whomever came up with this gets 500 extra credit points for finesse. If 2016 was a child getting a lecture, the kind soul who wrote that was the whisper in the child’s ear. Remember, you did some things right too. You’re not all bad despite this truckload of disapproval and rebuke heaped upon you.
An honest and effective wellness practice acknowledges both the suck and the success. While it is important not be dismissive and ignore what didn’t work, it is likewise important not to be defeatist and pretend that the things that didn’t work cancel out the things that did. If I go back and look at who I was and what I was practicing at this time a year ago it comes back to me with the same subtle buoyancy as that lovely sentiment expressed above—wellness is a practice, not a performance.
A year ago this week:
I finished reading The Desire Map. I got serious about aligning my lifestyle with how I really want to feel. My word of the year for 2016 was Alignment. The insights I picked up in this workbook facilitated alignment better than I would have achieved on my own over a full calendar year. Danielle’s weekly planner to supplement the book was without a doubt the smartest and most powerful purchase I made all year long. This means I was smart and powerful in 2016. Surely I wasn’t the only one.
My intentions for 2016; the entire year:
The first week of the year I joined DoYogaWithMe because it was free. I danced to these songs: Son of a Preacher Man, and Feeling Good and let them color my moods. I ate bone marrow for the first time and I swear to you it made me feel intimately connected to that cow. I joined a Plank-A-Day challenge for the month of January to feel strong. I started the TINAS self-portrait project to teach myself some lessons. I continued to submit photos to the 52 Photos Project to share the gift of my perspective. I was resourceful, adventurous, playful, and creative in 2016. Surely I wasn’t the only one.
A year ago this week I faced my first
failure challenge of the year:
I joined a book club. I read Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes because it was chosen by the book club. Shonda’s story penetrated me. I said YES! in Shonda-style and volunteered to lead one of the weekly discussion groups. My discussion questions were a complete flop. Everyone sat frozen and silent. I had to cajole and nearly beg the other club members to speak. I got crickets. They held back. Everyone was twitchy and uncomfortable. It was awful. Finally the leader of the group ended it mercifully by changing the subject to upcoming spring apparel. Although I never got any feedback on this I surmised that I overdid it. My questions were too hard for a casual discussion. I came on too strong. But this means I was brave enough to go deeper than a casual discussion. I was brave in 2016. Surely I wasn’t the only one.
A year ago this week I set my intentions for January 2016:
Morning Prayers are still going strong. Yoga practice is still either morning or evening. I nailed the debt goal—tallied it up this morning and I reduced my 2016 debt by more than half. Sacred time management turned into alignment with the Ayurvedic clock and I flexed my voice in January with six blog posts and the Slow Yoga series. I was effective in 2016. Surely I wasn’t the only one.
Things I wrote in my journal a year ago this week:
I was soulful and authentic in 2016. Surely I wasn’t the only one.
When asked to list my greatest desire I wrote:
To access and facilitate divine expression through my natural creativity. To live a supernatural existence in the natural world.
I was a Visionary in 2016. Surely I wasn’t the only one.
A year ago this week I made a gratitude list:
- supple feet
- robust health
- big rebellious laughter
- divine dialogue
- heightened palate
I was attuned in 2016. Surely I wasn’t the only one.
That’s right 2016, you were not all bad. I wasn’t all bad. We were not all bad. It’s too easy to let the bad yield eclipse the truth that many of us planted good seeds. From the very start we wanted good things and we manifested good things. I KNOW I was not the only one. Maybe it didn’t keep any beloved celebrities from dying. Maybe it didn’t stop any terrorism or genocide or suicide (as far as I know). Maybe it didn’t influence the outcome of the elections. Maybe it didn’t curb racism, fascism, sexism, avarice, or prejudice. Maybe it didn’t stop any natural and unnatural disasters.
Or maybe it did. Somebody somewhere saved a life this year. Somebody fed and nurtured someone. Somebody changed a mind, and maybe changed a life. Somebody started recovery. Somebody started over. Somebody put words of wisdom out there for someone else to find. Maybe it was a book. Maybe it was a song. Maybe it was a conversation overheard. Somebody somewhere struck a chord. Someone was sheltered, forgiven, healed and rehabilitated. Someone made a miracle happen. Someone let a miracle happen. I KNOW these happened too. I KNOW these things mattered. I know that when we hit bottom we look up. I know that when we climb out of a hole we reach a hand down to next person climbing up behind us. I know survival is an instinct and I know love is eternal.
To say it was all bad is to dishonor everything we did this year that was honorable. Even if our efforts sometimes only served to keep something from getting worse, this was still work that served the Universe. Somebody was still out there doing this work in 2016 while everything was falling apart, blowing up, and turning to shit. Maybe this was you, maybe this was me. What we did in 2016 mattered to someone and it is probably true that what someone else did mattered to us. If we can finally get it through our thick skulls that differences and divisions notwithstanding, we are all in this together, then 2016 could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to us.
— Danny Seagull
(auld lang syne)