by Richard Kolkovich
As 2017 dawns, I am prone to reflect on the past year and plan for the next, as many of us are. I am not a fan of the typical rituals of the new year in the form of resolution. In the end, 1 January 2017 is no different from 31 December 2016; why, then, do we believe that things will happen differently simply due to a change in one number of our accounting for time?
Over the past month, I have spent much time reflecting not only on 2016 but on the past three years, beginning in 2014. I view these years as a triptych, grouped inexorably together in how my life has changed in the duration.
The world, too, has seen much loss: artists and visionaries, innocent lives, and even faith. While we mourn the likes of David Bowie and Carrie Fisher, we must also lament the senseless loss of people who are nameless to most of us: the victims of terrorist attacks the world over, victims of hunger, victims of war. On top of these losses of life, I feel much of the world loses faith. Politics aside, the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump speak to me of a yearning for change: a lack of faith in the established systems. A desire for a glimmer of something different, something that could maybe, possibly begin to effect change and bring hope to a disenfranchised world.
For me personally, these years have seen immense turmoil, loss, and suffering. Ventures have collapsed and relationships have come to their end. I have lost much that was dear to me, and I have been challenged in ways I could not have previously imagined. And yet, I do not, as seems common, lament these years.
I do not seek to blame the years, to give them agency as if they are powered by an unseen force which acts only to cause pain. I can find plenty of responsibility for myself in much of the suffering. And I have experienced expansive personal growth in confronting these tribulations. I am a better person than I was three years ago, and I still have room to grow. To err is human, and I can never hope to not err. But I can hope to not err in the same ways, learning from my mistakes and continuing to grow throughout my remaining years on this planet.
To be true, I have also experienced some amazing highs during this triptych. I have found joy, love, and compassion in places both known and unexpected. And I have only gratitude for the experiences, both positive and negative, as they have continued to shape me into a better person.
And so I do not say farewell to 2016 with resentment or distaste. Nor do I resolve to do anything so drastically different in 2017 to improve myself. I simply greet 2017 as yet another year and remember that I will err and things will change. But every single day is a fresh start, a fresh chance to be better than the day before. And a chance to be greatful to draw breath in this amazing world.