Phew! Thank goodness 2016 is in the rearview mirror. January is the month for taking stock, or this year it’s the month for a wild and woolly inaugural. People tend to do a couple of things: look at the year in review and make resolutions for the new one.
The year 2016 was inextricably linked with the 1960s. Racial tensions not seen since the civil rights era were renewed; the thorn in our side since 1960, Fidel Castro, finally, finally died; and the presidential election was even weirder than that revolutionary one in 1968. Americans dominated once again in the Olympics. America became red and blue and black and blue. The stock market went through the roof.
After the year of the tweet, methinks it’s safer to work on resolutions.
1. Cut the cord. No more Direct TV. Less news, more money.
2. Avoid Alec Baldwin. I was OD’d on the guy before SNL. He’s everywhere.
3. Clean out closets.
4. Get rid of the squirrels or rats that are in the attic. (Actually, this should be number 1.)
5. Eat less red meat and more veggies.
6. Take a fun trip somewhere I’ve never been. (Outside of Texas.)
7. Work on cellulite. (Actually, this should be number 2.)
8. Write chapter one of that next book that’s buzzing around in my brain.
9. Plant an herb garden but stop short of being a budget Martha Stewart.
The problem with lists is that you feel like they have to be an even number, like ten tip-top things to do in 2017 or a dozen ways to kick off the New Year. And they’re always about self or home improvement.
The other game that people play is Predictions. Here goes.
I predict my last grandchild will finally sleep through the night. I predict the stock market will break 20,000. I predict someone will finally time the stoplight at Northwest Highway and the Tollway so people don’t sit behind a red light maddeningly watching a green arrow with only two cars able to turn because the lights don’t align. Well, these are probably wishes, not predictions, but I can dream.
It’s not a bad thing to stop and take stock of our lives, to try to reflect on our purpose, renew our goals, absorb history, and plan for the future.
But after the celebration and the perusal and the stirring up of the gumbo of life, the best movie line to summarize life may be from 20 years ago in 1997: “What if this is as good as it gets?”
In the movie bearing that title, when Jack Nicholson poses that question to the folks in the group therapy room of the shrink’s office there is a momentary look of panic on everyone’s faces.
If you’re in a low place, that’s a scary question. If you’re flying high it’s a triumphant declaration, not a question.
For most of us, life is twisted with the strands of some agony, some ecstasy, and a lot of in between. Once a year it’s probably a good thing to sit down and make a list. And start with the squirrel’s nest in the attic.
Len Bourland can be reached on her website www.lenbourland.com and is the author of the new book Normal’s Just a Cycle on a Washing Machine.