Saturday, December 31, 2016

For Every Action, an Equal and Opposite Reaction

Something happened in 2016. Something was in the air, or in the water, or digging its way into the darkest recesses of our hearts to expose our deepest fears and pains. Bad things happened this year. Icons — too many to count — died. Monsters of our past resurfaced, and monsters of our present attained new heights (and new depths) that we’d hoped were impossible. Personal crises, for many of us, were at their toughest, and left us shaken.

Because of all this, 2016 has already taken on a sort of mythological power. First we cursed its name, then we dared not utter it for fear it may cast its withering gaze on us. It was an unfair, unforgiving, uncaring god. A cosmic entity ruining all that was good in our world with a careless sweep of the hand. 2016 was — and likely will soon be portrayed as — a super villain.

But here’s the thing, and I know many have already had this realization…

2016 is just a number that we assigned to a period of time we designated. Calendars and clocks are human constructs we built to try to make sense of the natural world. In nature, time, to our perception, simply moves forward.

Even if whatever triggered this sudden torrent of darkness happened to coincide with the beginning of our 2016, that doesn’t mean the torrent will end as we go into 2017. To the natural world, it’s just the next step in an endless sequence.

Which is pretty fucking bleak if you let your thoughts about it end there… and I’m encouraging you not to. Because I think that’s how we got ourselves into this mess in the first place.

I think, just maybe, humanity, the human organism of which we are all a small but integral piece, is really fucking depressed. I think we, as a culture, as a society, have seen some bad things happen, and those bad things left a dark mark, and some of us reacted worse than others, some of us even died or got sick, and seeing that happen left another dark mark with the rest of us, and that caused more sickness and death, more dark marks, more emotional weight, more depression. It affected how we communicate, how we act, how we REact, and those things in turn had further effects on the world around us and on ourselves.

I think 2016 was as bad as it was, in large part, because the dominant organism on Earth — human life — couldn’t handle its shit. We got some bad news — whatever that was — and that perpetuated more bad news, and on, and on. I guess some might call that a butterfly effect, but the butterfly effect is supposed to be random, and looking back, the events of this year seem all too predictable.

So, here is my hope, my wish, and my intent for 2017:

I hope the human organism has a moment of clarity. I hope that we, as a collective, react so strongly to the events of this year, that it creates an opposite surge. I hope that we go from inattentive to hyper-attentive. I hope we go from mass apathy to mass empathy. I hope there are enough rebels and punks and artists and contrarians and angry, fed up, hopeful, needful people out there that they permeate the collective unconscious and motivate humanity to new heights of life-affirming, authority-challenging, positive action.

My wish for 2017 is that instead of going further down the spiral, we bounce.

Nature doesn’t care about our calendar. It only means something to us. We named the years and use them to map our lives — but only we have the power to define them. Human action and reaction made the roaring 20s, 1945, and 2001 what they are. 2016 wasn’t some malevolent entity that had it out for us — it was only the frame through which we viewed this section of human experience.

2017 will not be better just because it’s a new year. But I hope, through its frame, we will get to see the equal and opposite reaction to its predecessor.

Nature won’t do this. The universe has no care for our struggles. Nothing will save us but us. Care more. Do more. Support each other. Expand your empathy. Accept that 2016 had no power over us, and we will see 2017 shaped by our will.

This is my hope, my wish, my intent.

Happy New Year.

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