One day, I might explain in greater detail why 2017 was both one of the hardest years and one of the best years in my life… so far. For now, I will say…
It was the year I had my mid-life crisis, of that there is no doubt, the crisis whose aftermath continues to shape both my present and my future.
It was the year that I figured out you can walk through fire and still have feet when you get to the other side. The year I learned that I’d prefer walking through fire over staying trapped in a burning house.
It was the year I came face to face with the contradiction between my stated values and my necessary actions.
It was the year that a close friend of mine, a psychotherapist, wrote an essay entitled “I don’t want a happy life” and asked me to review it. Her central thesis: While we should never stop the unending work of improving ourselves, opening our hearts, slowing down, practicing self-acceptance, enjoying our lives and our loved ones, we shouldn’t confuse the pursuit of a superficial happiness with the pursuit of a meaningful life. A meaningful life won’t always be a happy life, but in the end, it’s preferable to the flimsy cardboard imitation of happiness.
It was the year I realized she was right, and I began to pursue the “authentic” over the “comfortable.”
It was the year I made the uncomfortable decision to live my life for myself and not other people.
It was a year that will most likely take me five more years to fully integrate and metabolize.
That’s was the darker side of 2017. There was also this…
2017 was the year I had my first best-seller, To Have Loved & Lost. I subsequently published the novella Paradise and the novel Anika takes the long way home up soul mountain. I also finished (but didn’t publish) Reverie in 2017, which some people tell me is my best novel to-date… the jury is still out.
But the most important writing milestone in 2017 was recognizing that my writing, like my life, has to be *for me* first, for everyone else second. As a lifelong people-pleaser, that’s been a transformative revelation.
2017 was the year we experienced Donald Trump’s first year in office as the President of the United States. My fingers still struggle to type that man’s name and “President of the United States” in the same sentence.
We went from, “Well, let’s give him a chance” to “OMFG, it’s worse than we could’ve ever imagined — where’s George W. Bush’s third term when you need it?!” in record time.
But we had the worldwide Women’s March, which was AWESOME and we also got an unprecedented amount of late-night television humor, all thanks to the new administration.
2017 was the year I started, and almost completed, my certification to become a personal trainer — my first baby steps into a career of helping others achieve their fitness goals, and I’m very excited about that.
2017 was the year a stranger wrote to me on Facebook, complimenting my writing and asking if I wouldn’t mind reviewing a short story she’d written. I said “yes” without any idea that doing so would change the entire course of my life. I said “yes” without any notion that this stranger was the love of my life.
I said “yes” without realizing that we’d change each other’s lives permanently, regardless of the fate of our own (still young) love.
Hi, 2018. It’s nice to meet you.
There was a shooting in Las Vegas last year and Tom Petty died. The U.S. President tried to goad North Korea into nuclear war so that he’d have a chance to nuke an entire nation into oblivion. Speaking of oblivion, hurricanes crippled Houston and possibly permanently damaged Puerto Rico, but at least the Astros won the World Series.
A Star Wars movie came out that wasn’t as disappointing as the Phantom Menace.
Rick and Michonne ended the year still alive. Same with Carol, Darryl, Tara, Maggie, Rosita, and Jesus. So that’s good.
So what do *you* have on offer, 2018? Tell me that the thing in Alabama where Doug Jones won wasn’t just a fluke — tell me you’ll have great news for us come November.
What’s that? You say 2018 is going to be a mixed bag?
I suppose that’s fair. I suppose most years are, aren’t they?
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” — from Dune, by Frank Herbert