I know you're only just arriving and have barely had time to unpack your bags, but I want to head you off at the pass just in case you don't receive the hospitality you may be expecting. The truth is, you might need a little extra time to accustom yourself to the state of the world. Honestly, 2017, I fear you don't know what you're in store for, so I'm here to debrief you.
Right about now you may be noticing that 2016 hasn't been a great year for everyone. In fact, this is the most negative New Year's Eve I've ever been a witness to. Yes, there are a few unique individuals who had amazing years but the vast majority feel as though they've been thrown in a burlap sack and tied to the back of a bumper of a truck that happens to be off-roading on the most brutal terrain known to man.
It's been a rollercoaster ride. And not a new shiny rollercoaster but one of those rickety old wooden ones, the kind you truly think may fly off the rails at any given moment. So, 2017, I sincerely hope your not too discouraged and that you understand why so many people are eager to see 2016 laid to rest. The pressure is great and there is a lot resting on your shoulders.
For myself, it has been an incredible year of highs and lows. While I have watched in stunned silence as Britain voted to leave the European Union and America voted in Donald Trump, I have also been heartbroken over the Syrian war, the pipeline protests, horrific mass casualty attacks, and the water crisis in Michigan. More than anything, I am devastated by the fear and helplessness so many of my friends are experiencing and those emotions are truly reflected all over the globe.
On the other hand, I have my son. My beautiful, warm, charming, utterly hilarious son. This year has seen his first birthday, his first steps, his first solid foods, and first real words. He has brought me immeasurable love and joy which made this year better than so many of my previous ones. He is wickedly smart and so damn sweet. But he is also the reason why I am afraid.
You see, 2017, I am frightened of you. While people want to be rid of 2016 I'm scared that I will miss it by the end of next year. Of course, I want to be an optimist but the very real truth is we don't know what's coming down the pipe and what's to come might just be worse than what has been. And I look at my son and I worry about the world I've brought him into. I want him to know love and kindness. I want him to know understanding and compassion. I long for him to grow up in a world where he can be who he wants and love who he wants. I desperately want to believe we are good and that the good will stand up and defeat the bad but 2016 left me feeling that the bad guys won. That is unacceptable.
It's unacceptable not just for my son but for all of us. Don't we all want to live in a world where good wins?
Here's the thing. I can't change the world. I can't stop wars. I can't eradicate racism and homophobia. I can't wipe out poverty. Not on my own at least. Together we might be able to. It starts with our own backyard. And it starts with kindness.
Under normal circumstances, I don't do New Year's resolutions. But nothing about this last year has been normal. In the wake of 2016 and having witnessed so much unhappiness for others this year, maybe it's time. Here it goes...
My resolution is simple and not very unique.
I resolve to be kind.
First, I will be kind to myself. Because people who are kind to themselves are more likely to be kind to others. I will treat myself better and stop tearing myself down. Not only for myself but for my son. I don't want him growing up witnessing his mother being mean to herself. I want to show him how to love and respect himself and that can't be done when I'm appalled at my gargantuan thighs or calling my writing gutter trash.
Next, I will be kind to my friends and family. To the people who love me and never ask me to change or be someone I'm not. I will work to engage with them and give my love, understanding, compassion, and humor. I will not judge them or criticize because I know they have already judged and criticized themselves enough.
I will be kind to the Earth and all the creatures on it. I will be kind to the trees and the animals and the bees and the spiders.
And lastly, I will be kind to the people I encounter throughout my day. I will hold doors and smile. I will offer kind words. I will strive to connect and have genuine moments with strangers and acquaintances alike. I will offer friendship to people from all walks of life in hopes of teaching my son the value of each person. My kindness will not be subjective and it will not be complacent. It will be strong and determined. It will be formidable. In kindness, I will stand up for what's right and strive to provide a safe place for anyone who needs it.
So, 2017, I may not be able to change the world or the outcome you have in store but I can change my backyard. I can change every interaction I have. And I can change how I move through life. From today and onwards, even in the face of grief and anger and frustration, I will work to be kind. For myself. For my son. For the earth. For everyone.