In some ways 2017 felt scary and unruly: chaotic, confusing, overwhelming, sad, appalling. Social media had its way with me for awhile there, making everything appear as treacherous water I was exhausted treading in. If I let myself travel down the narrowed, fixed view of the world offered me from outside, I was convinced we were all going under.
Many things in 2017 felt important and impactful: inspirational, breathtaking, funny, purposeful, good. My little family, my community, the school in which I work, the people I interact with every day – they were kind, helpful, thoughtful fellow travelers. And when I focus on them, my life seems downright charmed.
Every year is like this. We get to the end of one, and we have the absolute luxury of judging it as generally good or bad, do we not? When I look back at 2017, I’m fairly certain I’ll remember it as the year I took up my slingshot and took aim.
I’m a relatively well-read, well-informed person. Never in my life have I felt as powerless as I have this year over things that are bigger than me. Fine. Politics. I’m talking 95% about politics. This year, I’ve debated and argued with people I’ve known for years, I’ve written letters and emails, I’ve made phone calls and I’ve taken a tone with politicians I voted for and previously believed in. This year, I’ve understood as I never have before, that though I have a voice, I have no real say. This overwhelmed me for awhile, and then it spurred me on.
I can read and learn about big goings-on in DC and the world, and then visit a neighbor in the nursing home, bring her a cookie and talk for a bit. I shovel out my kid’s car so when he needs to leave he can do so easily. I snuggle up on the couch with my daughter and read side by side, our favorites. I let a stranger go in front of me in line at Hannaford when the lines are half way down the aisles. I listen to people when they speak to me, especially my students – our galvanized youth – that I spend my days with. They are listening back, and they’re paying full attention.
So 2017 can go now. He’s not a visitor with an open invitation to return. Yet because of him, I can’t help but know: there’s no authentic freedom without fight, no authentic joy without sorrow, no authentic knowing without questions, and no authentic truth without falsehood rearing it’s ugly, ugly head. This year’s complexities are going to bring about some needed growth. And it will be authentic and long-lasting.
Yes, 2017 it was so much bigger than I am: a goliath. But as everyone knows, you should ever underestimate David.