Thursday, December 31, 2015

To new heights

2015 was not a great year, in a lot of ways, for a lot of people. Aside from my friends and acquaintances who've suffered setbacks or losses, personal and professional, there's been a lot of garbage fires in the news. Hateful rhetoric and bullying by politicians (and wannabe politicians), war and chaos in the Middle East, epidemics in Africa, breathtaking mendacity and corruption in the halls of power.

But if I allow myself to refocus (and if you'll allow it, with all of the above stipulated and duly mourned), 2015 was a great year for me. I published a book, the culmination of four years of research, fieldwork, and writing. I was lured back into weekly TV reviews to write about Better Call Saul for the A.V. Club.  I lost 30 pounds. I sewed my first dress. I knit a lot of stuff I'm proud of (I'll post more about that over on the other blog). I left administrative work behind and debuted a successful new course, with others in the works. I celebrated my fiftieth birthday feeling stronger, healthier, more creative, and more content than I have in many years. My children continue to astound me, and my husband graciously allows me to bask in his reflected glory.

For causes I care about, too, there was good news. Marriage equality prevailed at the Supreme Court. Thanks to Obamacare, the number of Americans without health care coverage dropped to historic lows. A historic deal to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions was reached. Relations with Cuba were normalized, allowing travel and commerce to resume after decades of fruitless sanctions. Guantanamo Bay continues to shed its detainees, slowing bringing to a close a shameful episode in American history.

I think back a few years, and remember being fearful, frustrated, strangely lost. I cast about for disciplines and programs to try to regain control of what seemed to be slipping away. That time seems like a dream of a distant sickness. The prescription was simple: autonomy, fulfilling work, creative and nourishing leisure, loving and being loved.

Whether you are bidding a fond or a bitter farewell to 2015, I wish you greater things in 2016. May we find peace, empathy, and mutual flourishing there.