So 2017 is happening. Apparently. My kids went back to school today. Which means I need to officially look this year in the eyes. With them around I could feign distraction — avoid plans or promises in the name of being present. The quiet in the house brings with it a kind of reckoning.
What do I make of this year? What can I make this year? I’m supposed to be making lists, aren’t I? Wish lists, to do lists, declarations of independence from the debacle that was 2016.
Yes, like so many others I felt gutted by 2016. Gutted of belief in common sense and common decency and a shared common humanity. It’s vicious and devious out there right now, and I’m not sure humans have a cure for what ails us. I no longer believe in progress. Or in happy endings.
Shit happens. Shit happened.
And yet 2017 is happening as well. And I find myself scratching around for belief amidst the wreckage.
Because in 2016, l didn’t just lose faith in my fellow human, I lost a little bit of belief in myself as well. When everything is falling around you, it’s hard to keep standing tall, clear eyed and resolute.
Can I really change this world? Not just any world, but THIS world we’re living in right now? Can my writing make any impression in this world where words mean so little? Can my calls for authenticity be heeded in this world where “fake” seems to be the most widely used adjective of the day?
Can I really keep calling upon my inner Troublemaker day in and day out, when Trouble seems to be what this world is in?
Truth is, I don’t think I have a choice. 2017 isn’t going away. This world is the one my boys are growing up in. I don’t have a choice to hide from it. None of us do. We have to show up to 2017.
The question is how. How do we choose to show up this year? That’s the only real choice we have, isn’t it? How do we choose to show up to our fellow humans, so that together we can create beauty for ourselves and our children?
And in this Trump-Zuma-Syria-ISIS-drought-floods-8 richest men world, that choice around showing up seems so critical. So powerful. Showing up with authenticity and empathy is our one powerful response to the belligerence and ignorance and narcissism grabbing headlines today. A potent rejection of the toxicity desperately staking its claim as a sort of new normal.
For me, showing up authentically and with empathy involves being
Honest about the complexity of my feelings and beliefs
Curious about the feelings and beliefs of others
Compassionate in recognizing that difference is actually humanity’s magic
Creative in forging alternatives to the status quo
Generous in forging connections with others
Accepting of the discomfort that comes in connecting generously with others
And above all courageous in doing all of the above, over and over, no matter how scared it makes me feel.
When I embrace the fullness of my being – and that of others — I become the principled leader of my own free world. Then suddenly this bigger world doesn’t hurt so much.
So I will show up today. To my world. And I will try to find the courage to do so every day for the next twelve months. With the hope that maybe I will find belief again. The hope that maybe by doing so I will actually make something of 2017, make something in 2017.