FLIP FLOPPING . . .

So like most people I hate being wrong. Even worse, I hate having to admit I’m wrong. There is something so, well, wrong about having to eat crow ―maybe with a little butter it’s not so bad― and ‘fess up to another human being that my thoughts, actions, opinions or fashion choices leave something to be desired. It doesn’t matter how big or small the issue in question is, it is the fact that I have to acknowledge out loud I may have missed the mark, dropped the ball, erred and found myself to be wanting.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look that closely into the mirror and see all the bumps and blemishes I’ve spent a lifetime trying to conceal under that thin veneer known as smug and sanctimonious self-righteousness. After fifty-one years on the planet, I’ve had ample opportunity to embrace and discard many beliefs, truths and disastrous hairstyles. What I once considered immutable reality often turned out to be questionable illusion. I’ve wondered about a great many things over the years, for instance: Why does The Bachelor needs writers? It’s gotten to the point where I wonder if the moon is not, in fact, made of green cheese!

What has precipitated this foray into the deep, dark recesses of my soul? It’s . . . exercise. I know, I’ve touted the benefits of couch potato-ness for years. I could quote dubious studies on the dangers of sweat and raising one’s heart rate to nominal levels. I truly believed opening the fridge would tone your arms― providing you did it 50,000 times a day, but still. I have been forced to shatter my conviction on this front based on one irrefutable phenomenon ― experience. Yes, I have been going to the gym (mostly) regularly and based on the sense of well-being and the unexpected amount of energy gained, I have had to re-evaluate my position and conclude that exercise is, contrary to everything I previously held sacred, good for you.

You do not know how hard it is for me to admit that not only to myself but to Daughter #1 who kept touting the almost spirituality-ness of exercise and finally cajoled me into joining. And like any good mother, I did it to get her off my back please her. Little did I know that the benefits of working out far outweighed the costs (i.e. losing one hour every other day to the elliptical). On a side note, I discovered HGTV as there is nothing else to do while whiling away that hour except watch the tiny TV attached to those torture machines serotonin enhancing apparatuses. As I don’t have any ear buds I have to read the closed captions, a tricky maneuver and is an exercise in itself to accomplish that feat while one is exercising, but that’s another story.

Fortunately, we humans are blessed with the ability to reason and are more than able to change our minds when new facts come to light. This is a good thing. If changing our minds were met with derision and condemnation by our compatriots why, we’d still be living in caves and eating twigs. There’d be no Carnival Cruises for fear of sailing off the edge of the earth. And I’m pretty sure chocolate would never have been invented and that would be a monumental travesty of justice.

While I have had an epiphany on this particular topic, rest assured I’m not about to suddenly publicize all the errors of my ways. It will always rankle me to my bones to own up to my erroneous miscalculations but I have devised a way to preserve my honor and integrity when one or more of my hard fought for delusions turns out to be inaccurate. I will humble myself enough to admit that while I am certainly not wrong, I may be. . .

Not entirely right . . .

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H.E. DOUBLE TOOTHPICKS . . .

So generally speaking I don’t usually worry about where I’m going to end up in the afterlife. I never thought I did anything to warrant a one-way trip to the eternal fires but certain information came to my attention recently that, quite frankly, has me a bit concerned, troubled, worried, freaked out!

Have I killed anyone recently? No. Have I robbed, pillaged, or sang out loud in public the entire Frozen sound track? No. Am I a shark, a swindler, a charlatan or a sprayer of perfume on unsuspecting shoppers? No. Okay, I talk with my mouth full on occasion and I have been known to rant at drivers who clearly have no concept of road etiquette but other than that, I thought I was on the fast track to tea with St. Peter just inside those pearly gates.

What did I do to make me question the very foundation of my moral, spiritual, thought- I- had- it- all- figured- out journey to the Promised Land? I Googled – “little known sins in the Bible”.

Turns out there is a whole host of rules and regulations in the Bible that I’m pretty sure none of us were even remotely aware of. And to make matters even direr, I have committed a number of these transgressions without the benefit of knowing I wasn’t supposed to be committing them! I hoped in this case ignorance of the law was an excuse but I have been assured by the aforementioned tome that ignorance of these divine policies in and of itself is a guaranteed ticket to the bottomless pit!

That’s just totally not fair! How is one supposed to do what’s right if one doesn’t even know what right is? And trying to make sense of the conflicting and wildly differing interpretations, explanations, and consequences of believing the incorrect interpretations and explanations just makes the whole business a convoluted and confusing quagmire of uncertainty and doubt.

The most distressing site I found is called― and I kid you not― Sin List (if you don’t believe me go to http://www.wogim.org/sinlist.htm). There I found a convenient, mostly alphabetized list of 667 sins. Here is a sampling: astrology, vain babblings, eating blood (well, we already knew vampires were toast), boasting, busybodies, complaining, crafty or foolish conversation, being idle, being lazy (I’m done for!), bad manners, professing to be wise, wearing of clothing of opposite sex (damn-oops, swearing- I just got a new pair of jeans), killing a mother bird in the nest (I guess it’s okay if she’s out of the nest), and finally, not blessing them that curse you.

There is a dismaying plethora of internet sites devoted to outlining in excruciating detail every sin that is possible for us lowly beings to commit. I won’t lie, I was sweating. I mean, I cut my hair. I wear cotton/poly blends. Then I stumbled upon a lively discussion on a site decrying the evilness of . . . being left-handed. . . I thought it was joke. It wasn’t.

I sat in total silence reflecting on all I had learned. My head hurt after about five minutes but that was enough for me to come to the only conclusion possible. No one has a flippin’ clue what they’re talking about.

Us tiny specks in the universe known as humans make tons of mistakes but the biggest mistake we make is believing that a Being who could create a universe out of absolutely nothing would be so condemning, disapproving, and hateful to the very creatures He/She created.

In conclusion, I’ve decided to put all my eggs in one basket and hang onto the one thing the Bible says that seems like something an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving, timeless, non-corporeal entity (i.e. God) would say and here it is: Nothing can separate you from Me.

. . . Unless, of course, you’re a lefty . . .

IF ONLY . . .

So all my life I considered myself a mellow, easy going person― the glass is not only half full, it’s overflowing kind of person. Nothing much rattled me and I could usually find the silver lining in any situation. Calm, caring and compassionate. That was me.

But as I reflect back over the years, I have come to the unpleasant conclusion that there was always something sinister lurking just beneath the surface. My exterior projection of cheerful contentment was a ruse designed by some devious inner imp to fool myself into thinking I was someone I wasn’t. Someone I desperately wanted to be. Someone, well, calm and caring and compassionate.

I lived in a bubble where I was always pleasant, friendly, and, of course, nice. That was me to a T―nice. I wouldn’t hurt a hair on a bug’s head. You could count on me to be uplifting and positive. If you were down in the dumps, I’d spray some air freshener and clean everything up till it sparkled.

Now that I’m old(er) I realize I was living in a bubble. A bubble of self-delusion and denial. A bubble created not for my protection but for the protection of the people and the world around me. A bubble to keep the beast contained. But as the years melted away so has the bubble and I have come face to face with my true self: a crabby, cranky, curmudgeony, not very nice person.

What finally broke the spell and released the demon from its cage? Drivers, that’s what. Those shadowy villains that have infected vehicular conveyances since the dawn of man. It never crossed my mind that sweet little ‘ole me could be harboring the rage the road brings out of the seemingly innocuous.

Here are a few of my choicest rants all screamed from inside the comfort and anonymity of my lime green VW Beetle. I am almost ashamed of these vicious and abusive tirades that erupted out of me. Almost. Because let’s face, these scoundrels deserved it. . .

“That’s the only shade it comes in!” to the deadbeats lounging in gas guzzlers when the stoplight turns green.
“The gas pedal is the one on the right!” to every Tom, Dick and Harriet ambling down the ACCELERATION ramp to the freeway.
“Turn on your flippin’ blinker! I’m not psychic!” to the yahoos changing lanes, changing directions, changing their freaking minds!

Sometimes I fantasize I’m an agent of vigilante justice sworn to uphold the rules of the road, which no one but me seems able to follow. I imagine a giant bullhorn strapped to the top of my car so I can blast these nere-do-wells into obedience. Just once, I’d like to give these destroyers of the very fabric of the universe a piece of my mind! Okay, maybe just a good finger-wagging as I really can’t afford to lose any more gray matter but you get my drift.

Now that I’ve officially come out of the closet and embraced my inner Mr. Wilson, I really think I could tell off these sorry excuses for civilized beings. I think I could rebuke them with my cutting wit without experiencing even one guilty twang. I feel the fury rising up from my guts and I know it would be fabulously freeing to finally say to these cretins of humanity what needs saying. I don’t care what whirlwind the words of truth might wreak. I know in my heart of hearts I really could do it!

And I would . . . if I wasn’t so calm, caring, compassionate and @#$%^!*& nice. . .

ODE TO SPRING . . .

So Spring has finally sprung! How do I know? I hear birds chirping outside my bedroom window at the crack of dawn. I see curbs and all the potholes winter left behind. I replaced my Gore-Tex infused full-body winter survival ensemble with a movement friendly non down-filled jacket. I wore sandals the other day even though it was only for an hour and my toes turned purple. The beautiful, brown grass is snow-free and the leafless branches dance in the breeze. (OK, they whip around like frenzied, many-tentacled aliens in the soul-crushing, never ending tempest ―otherwise known as wind― but at least now it’s not snow infested blizzards but eye gouging dirt storms.)

Oh sure, our 77 degree day lasted exactly one day and it’s only supposed to be in the 40’s next week but in this part of the country, we rejoice because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt the cruel, dark, frigid winter has been conquered once again. You would think all the signs listed above would be the omen propelling our certainty that spring has arrived but no. It is something that on first blush escapes one’s notice. But once noticed, confirms the change of season in the most definitive and unarguable way possible.

What is this powerful, pseudo-mystical phenomenon I am waxing poetic about? It’s . . . air conditioning.

Yep, as soon as the calendar crawls its way into April and we hit our first shorts-wearing day, every restaurant, coffee shop, convenience store, gas station, shopping mall and place of business cranks up those heat reducing apparatuses. (The exception being schools as they are on a tight budget.)

Cool ―not as in awesome, great, wonderful― but cool as in cold. Cold as in I can’t wear my new sleeveless, flimsy, barely there dress because if I do, I will freeze off parts of my body I would just as soon keep! Cold as in I shouldn’t have to wear more clothes indoors that out! Cold as in it’s warmer outside in January than in these frozen tundras manufactured by humankind as soon as day-light savings begins!

What is wrong with this picture?! We complain all winter about how our joints won’t move and how goose bumps become a fashion choice but as soon as we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we panic. It’s as if we can’t accept the God-given gift of warmth and if one drop of sweat squeezes out of our pores, we fear it means we’ve gone soft. We fear it means we aren’t hardy and rugged and will never survive the next winter if we let down our guard for even one second. To indulge in comfort of any kind goes against the pioneer spirit of our ancestors which is infused into our DNA.

But I am tired of wearing sweat pants in summer. I hate having to bring mittens when I go out to eat so the utensils won’t freeze to my fingers. And no one should have to wear a parka to the frozen food section of the grocery story in the middle of a 90 degree day!

I’ve come to the conclusion that Spring is just a devious scheme, a delusion with no connection to reality. It’s a lousy trick designed to make us believe in the promise of Summer. I’ll admit it, I drank the Kool-Aid on this fantasy for years but it’s time I faced the appalling truth. The truth I have spent a lifetime trying to repress.

There is no such thing as Spring.

I guess since I already spilled the beans on this conspiracy I might as well go all the way and confess the real truth. . .

. . . I miss winter . . .

YEA WINTER . . .

So believe it or not, I usually like winter. Yeah, it’s cold but that just means it’s not 90 million degrees with 350% humidity causing sweat to gush out of my pores in a perpetual downpour of sticky, smelly acid rain. Winter is the time to snuggle in your cozy house and read and watch movies and eat anything with chocolate. Winter is calm and quiet. The air is crisp and clean. Snow crunches soothingly under your boots and the world takes on a mystical, peaceful air.

But not this year. This year, winter turned foul and evil. It’s as if winter got sick and tired of taking second place to summer and decided to teach us a lesson in who is top dog. (Think Snow Miser vs. Heat Miser.) Up here in the northern mid-west, where we are used to the cold, winter bit us in the proverbial ass. And our real asses, too. We had over 50 days of below zero temperatures and we’re talking 10 below. 20 below. That’s below zero. Fahrenheit! Fortunately, we are slogging our way towards the light of spring but spring is fickle in these parts and it could very well be May before all the snow disappears from those hard to reach areas where the sun just can’t reach.

I did get a reprieve when we went to Orlando for a week and it was like going to a warm, tropical island, minus the island. It was 80 degrees warmer than home and it felt decadent and daring to wear sandals and no sleeves in February. I didn’t have to wear a jacket, even at night, and it made me question why I live in the frigid, icebox called Minnesota when there is such a lovely place called Florida where you never have to warm up your car 3 hours before you go anywhere and the snot doesn’t freeze in your nose when you sprint out to your mailbox.

Florida, where the happiest place on earth is located (that’s Disneyworld in case you live under a rock) and the most magical and hallowed place in the entire world is just a $93 ticket away. (That’s the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.) Hogwarts’ castle looms over Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. There’s butterbeer and Zonko’s and Honeydukes. You can buy a Marauders’ Map and owls (stuffed toys, not real ones) and wands. Oh, the wands! I bought one because you cannot go to Harry Potter World and not. I’m convinced it would work, too, but alas I fear I am a squib or worse, a plain, old Muggle.

Why, oh why haven’t I packed my bags and scampered off to the Sunshine State or any state that has a median temperature above 50 degrees!? Is it because my job, my house, my family and friends are all here? Is it because the thought of actually moving makes my stomach curdle? Well, yes, not to mention the fact that I’m too lazy and set in my ways to pull up stakes and take on that kind of adventure.

But the real reason I don’t leave this place in the dust is because us folks up here take a kind of perverted pride in living where the wind howls and the snow piles up and the red in the thermometer disappears into the nether regions for half the year. We scoff at those wimps down south who can’t function if one snowflake flutters into their midst. We come from hardy stock and have no patience for those too delicate of countenance to withstand the character-building conditions we endure with hardly any complaint.

Yes, we’ve got the right stuff here and it brings a tear to my eye and a tingle in my heart whenever I think of this wonderful place and I can’t imagine living anywhere else in the world!

Okay, maybe Hawaii but that’s it. . .

MORAL CROSSROAD . . .

So today I was finally lured over to the Dark Side. I spent my entire life trying to escape its clawing tentacles but I was worn down and it was easier to succumb than to continue fighting. I am still vehemently and morally opposed but as I have sold out, I have lost all credibility and for that I apologize.

I am sorry to report that I have, against my will and probably illegally, been forced to . . . join a gym! I know, I made it my mission in life to rail against the forces touting the benefits of exercise and laughed in the face of facts “proving” that physical exertion is good for the body, mind and soul. Unfortunately, it’s been getting harder and harder to shuffle from the sofa to the brownies in the kitchen and when dots started floating in front of my eyes whenever I heaved myself out of the car, steps had to be taken.

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view) Daughter #1 is a fitness guru. She ever so logically (I hate logic) and with hypnotic slight-of-hand (still trying to figure it out) convinced me that getting in shape is a noble endeavor guaranteed to make me feel energetic and healthy and stem the march of time on my poor, old body.

Today we went to the local national chain gym and before I knew it, we had signed up for an eighteen month membership! Yes, eighteen months! Two minutes after that, she’s got me doing lunges and some bird thing and lifting weights and that’s just the warm up! The next twenty minutes passed in a blur she called Workout 1A. Apparently there are at least eight different workouts all with an undetermined amount of letters.

Much to my surprise, I was able to keep up and though I shudder to admit it, I felt pretty good afterwards! I basked in the afterglow of post workout euphoria as I drove home and thought, hey, maybe there IS something to this exercise thing. . .

Then I got home. And climbed up the seven steps to the upper level of my bi-level. And remembered why I despise exercising. Every muscle in my body screamed in agony. Muscles I didn’t even know I had. Muscles that didn’t even belong to me! After a really hot shower I felt better and was feeling kinda proud of my accomplishment. Then Daughter #1 dropped the bomb. She said, “After a three or four years (ok, weeks) of doing these workouts three times a week, you will feel lots better.”

Um, what?!? You mean I have to go back? Like, all the time?!? I didn’t sign up for that! Well, I guess I did but I didn’t know what I was doing. I was framed! I was tricked! I was bamboozled by my own flesh and blood!

Sigh. I guess the only thing I can do is accept the fact that I’m now doomed to be buff, toned, youthful and healthy . . . I’ll trade you for a brownie . . .

(**) KEEPING MY TRAP SHUT . . .

So it’s taken 51 years but I’m slowly coming to the realization that I do not know everything. And even more illuminating, no one really cares to hear me wax poetic about the little wisdom I do possess. I thought I had an obligation to point out to others the error of their ways as I was sure I knew what life is and should be about. What I’m finally learning is that the IS part isn’t the problem. It’s the SHOULD part.

We all know what our lives are like (that’s the IS part) as every day we get up, get dressed and, well, live our lives. Trouble abounds because everyone and their grandma has an opinion about how everyone SHOULD live their lives. Let me clarify― everyone ELSE. We think we know what other people’s lives are like through observation, interaction and, unfortunately, reality TV and let’s face it, we relish hanging around the water cooler/bar/coffee shop trash talking people’s dubious life choices/ style/ behavior/ activities/ drinking habits/ and hair color.

We all know how to fix our kids/ friends/ neighbors/ the jerk who cut us off with his stupid, gas-guzzling SUV/ and all those foreigners, deadbeats, radicals and relatives. If they would just LISTEN to me, er I mean, us, the world would spin around a lot better and my, er I mean, our, lives would be so much easier as we, and more importantly, I, wouldn’t have to constantly be thinking about how you’re living your life WRONG and how can I make you CHANGE!

Quite frankly, I’m exhausted trying to keep up with the Kardashians and why do I even care that they named their kid North? Or that George Clooney still hasn’t found the right one? Or that your God has a different name than mine? Or that you think that you are actually right? At the end of the day, it’s no skin off my nose how you live your life. (Obvious Disclaimer: As long as your life doesn’t interfere with my life and vice versa blah, blah, blah.) You may THINK I’m not getting into The New York Yacht Club (no one’s getting in there), or Disney’s Club 33 (14 year waiting list), or a women’s rest room at any sporting event (no explanation needed), or heaven (don’t even get me started), but I KNOW plenty about you, too. Unfortunately, the chances of us changing each other’s minds are as slim as winning the lottery and there is no way of knowing for sure who is right until we’re dead at which point one of us will be vindicated (and by one of us, I mean me).

Of course, I am well aware that this whole blog post is one, big hypocritical mess as I’ve used all these words trying to tell YOU what you SHOULD be doing. I apologize profusely but deep down I still believe that if I just talk loud enough and long enough eventually I will wear you down and you WILL come around to my way of thinking because you are so totally WRONG!

Sorry. There really needs to be some sort of program for us recovering Know-It-All’s. At least I have discovered the first step in the long, long road to redemption and I will happily share it with you knowing full well that you are free to embrace or discard it as you see fit. I call it The Golden Rule 2.1 and I know if we all follow it, we can change the world! (Sorry, there I go again.)

In closing, I just want to say I will try really, really, really hard to take my own advice (Golden Rule 2.1– see ** above) . . . ‘cuz I know I’m right . . .

Are You Sure This Is Legit . . .

sunshine-award-2

So a big, giant thank you to Vegas E. Sundance at http://rushhourrant.wordpress.com/ for nominating me for The Sunshine Award! I’m not sure what The Sunshine Award is but it’s a good ego booster to get any award and especially one with a cool award-y badge I can add to this post.

Unfortunately, this award comes with strings but as I don’t have to give anyone any money I guess I can tie them up into a pretty bow. There are the strings: I have to give you 11 facts about myself, nominate 10 other bloggers and list their blogs here. Oh, and give a big, giant thank you to the blogger who nominated me, which I already did but I can do again. THANK YOU VES!

11 Facts about Myself:

1. I am a girl.
2. Actually, I am a thirteen-year-old girl trapped inside a fifty-one-year old crabby lady.
3. Maybe not so much crabby as tired.
4. I love Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate Brownies. With chocolate frosting. And M&M’s. I may have mentioned this occasionally on previous blog posts.
5. I like to write, hence, this blog which I like writing even though it involves me actually having to, well, write.
6. I have a bit of a laziness problem which you may have deduced from reading my blog.
7. Sorry I don’t post more often but see #6.
8. Eleven facts are a lot. Why can’t it be five or even better, none?
9. I’m not that interesting.
10. Only one more to go. . . Maybe this one doesn’t count.
11. The eleventh fact about me is that I don’t like writing facts about myself . . .

Okay, got through that. Now I have to nominate ten other bloggers for this award. . . Not sure I know ten other bloggers! Here goes:

1. http://cristianmihai.net/
2. http://gottafindahome.wordpress.com/
3. http://lineoftheweek.wordpress.com/
4. http://goodestoftimes.wordpress.com/
5. http://thistimethisspace.com/
6. http://iamthebee.wordpress.com/
7. http://culturemonk.com/
8. http://ashleyjillian.com/
9. http://weirdshortstoriesbychristian.wordpress.com/
10. http://chrismartinwrites.com/

I think I have to notify all these blogger that I nominated them. That seems like a lot of work. But then they will have to thank me and link back to my blog and write 11 facts about themselves and nominate 10 other bloggers and announce on their blog who those bloggers are. . . . I hope they don’t get mad at me.

sunshine-award-2

(I figure I can put this on here twice as I am a special Sunshine Award winner!)
(Whoo Hoo! I didn’t have to think up some witty, relevant, inspiring blog post for this week!)

THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE! ―said Luke to Vader upon hearing the truth . . .

So I’ve decided God must have been crazy when He told us we’re supposed to love our neighbors/enemies as ourselves. And to make things even worse, I think what He really meant is that we are supposed to love them unconditionally. You know, like God loves us.

Oh sure, we all say we do that in our most humble, pious voices. We love all of God’s creatures, we continue as if God doesn’t know we are crossing our metaphoric, and sometimes actual, fingers behind our backs.

But let’s break this down, shall we. Love means, well, that’s another blog post but generally speaking we know what it means. Unconditional means, well, unconditional, which means NO conditions. None. Zero. Unconditional love means you are loved for no reason whatsoever. You can’t buy it, sell it, or bargain for it. It doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad or indifferent. Rich, poor, skinny, fat, or too stupid for words. There is nothing you can do to get it and nothing you can do to get rid of it. That is the way God loves us. No matter what anyone says, and by anyone I mean ANYONE, God loves us unconditionally!

Wow! That is pretty, darn awesome! To which I say yes it is!

But . . . really? You want me to love everyone unconditionally, too? Are you kidding me? There are so many people, and by people I mean, not me, who are annoying and moronic and don’t know how to drive! How am I supposed to unconditionally love the idiot who spouts asinine opinions? Or the jerk who hates me because I’m (fill in the blank)? I have a hard enough time unconditionally loving the people I actually love. And except for dogs, I don’t think there are any creatures on the planet who can truly do this!

So where does that leave us? When my kids were little and they’d complain about a classmate, I’d tell them, “You don’t have to like them or be their friend but can’t be mean”. Maybe that’s all God expects from us. You know the whole if- you- can’t- say- something- nice- don’t- say anything- at- all type of thing. Maybe if we can’t unconditional love our neighbors/ enemies/ family, it’s enough to just keep our traps shut, paste on a smile and say “have a nice day”, even if we keep our fingers crossed behind our backs.

I must admit I have great respect and admiration for God that He is able to pull this unconditional loving thing off. Quite frankly, I’m surprised He hasn’t fried us all with lightning bolts. I guess that’s why He’s God and we’re . . . not.

Of course, God’s been around a while and let’s face it, He did design the system. He’s had a lot of time to practice and maybe that’s all we need, too. Practice. I’m not sure I’m up to it. The world has, like, a zillion people. I guess all I can do is unconditionally love just one of you each day and work my way through. It kinda gives me a stomach-ache thinking about it all but as they say, one day at a time, and today is your lucky day because today I pick . . .

. . . You!

2014 . . .

So another year has begun. Same as it does every year and I, like most of us, wonders where the last year went. Like time is a traveler who packs up his suitcase and leaves on a whim just when things start to make sense. Just when things seem to be going along fine or at least going along.

People gather in gigantic crowds and whoop it up on New Year’s Eve but I can’t help feeling melancholy each Dec. 31st when I watch that crystal ball drop from the comfort of my living room sofa. Time seems to go faster each year ―there is a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, which doesn’t really help at all― but it’s not the speed of time passing that makes me yearn for earlier days. With the perfect vision of hindsight, it’s the knowledge that no matter what happened in past years, good or bad, we got through it. We solved some problems, or learned to live with them. We discovered new things about ourselves and the world around us. We cried at disappointment and rejoiced in victories. We know how to do last year. And the year before that. And so on until our memory fades out. Even though there are things we would change if we could, the past is over and done with. A familiar friend, and sometimes foe, unchanging and unchangeable.

This year is another story. This year is concealed behind a shroud of uncertainty. There are cliffs hidden in the fog. Wrong turns and dead ends. The road before us is vast and daunting and unimaginable. But fortunately, and ironically, the past is what will help us on our journey to the future. The past, where sometimes the world seemed to be on its last legs, gives us absolute proof that no matter what happened, we prevailed. There has never been a year that ended on a Dec. 31st with no Jan. 1st to follow.

This New Year, like every one before, is full of questions, but it is also full of answers. Cliffs can be scaled. Wrong turns can lead to surprises. Dead ends can harbor beauty. And secret passages exist in the most unlikely places that will guide us to where we are supposed to go. Last year is a page in the history books. This year is a blank page, waiting. Waiting for us to fill it with whatever we choose. Let’s fill it with compassion and understanding and respect and honor and peace and love.

But mostly, let’s fill it with the one thing that can break up the darkness and send it scurrying into oblivion. The one thing with the power to change the present, right the past and ensure that every New Year will truly be a cause for celebrating. Let’s light up the world and make it shine with the never-ending beacon called . . .

. . . Hope . . .