Putting a pin in the last year.
The sun, the earth, and stars don’t much care that we’re about to be in a “new” year. The cosmos don’t care that someone decided to start counting years using January 1 as an arbitrary marker. In reality, it doesn’t matter if I decide to wrap up the events of 2017 into a package, reflect on it, then chuck it out a window in order to move on, all because the calendar is about to flip over to 2018. But, despite how arbitrary it is, there is some comfort in having a milestone, about wiping the slate clean, at least as clean as it can get, and giving it all another go.
Let me tell you about my 2017 in summary:
It is the year in which I had to process–in a battle of coping that still goes on but perhaps isn’t as hard as it was–having my best friend in the world, my lover, my partner, the person who made the insanity of reality bearable, turn on me, and I on her, in a colossal meltdown brought on by fear, apprehension, stress, distance, miscommunication, all things that two people ought to be able to overcome yet failed to.
It is the year in which two people I cared about departed the world of the living. In one of those instances, the loss served to bring together a family long enough to mourn, only to be driven further apart than ever by drama and pettiness.
It is the year in which I decided to no longer be a completely passive observer in the sociopolitical world around me, as the lunacy of the political landscape in the United States has become more toxic than ever. I can no longer live with being completely silent, towing the line as the ideals this country was founded on are eroded around me. I have studied history too long to not be able to recognize when it stands to repeat itself in a bad way. Speaking out over seeing lines crossed that I feel ought not to be, has damaged my relationships with some people. I wonder if they ever knew me that well to begin with if my views on politics and social issues come as such a shock to them.
2017 is a year when I dealt with these things in ways that weren’t healthy. Drinking oneself into delirium doesn’t make one’s problems go away. Going on a date with someone you’re not completely interested in for the sake of pretending for a little bit that you aren’t lonely is a mistake. There are some people I simply should not ever have become involved with in any way, not because I’m better than them or because they were awful human beings (that I know of), but because all we had in common was a desire to fill the voids left by loneliness and hurt. That is not a good basis for forming any relationship or connection.
I also made some new friends and acquaintances in 2017, and traveled to places I never did before. I am glad these things happened, and the friends I’ve made and pleasant experiences I lived through will stick with me when the calendar year changes. I published two novels, In the Baron’s Shadow and Lunacy, which I suppose ought to feel like big accomplishments. I’m proud of them, yet, I don’t feel as though I am much better off for having completed them. Would I feel better if I had a larger readership, if I had more tangible sales? Or is it because some of the people I am closest to have never read my stories, and thus have no grasp of who I really am, considering how much of me goes into my creative work? I don’t have the answers.
Despite the positive spots, 2017 was not a good year for me. It was a dark and foreboding place, filled with agony and despair, punctuated only occasionally with light, life, and joy. I know there is no magic button that gets pressed when the year reads 2018, but the hope I have left to cling to is that I can take what lessons there are to be learned from 2017, then take the year itself and the events thereof, discarding it for all time. It can’t be lived again. What I can do is take 2018 and the times to follow it, and forge from it the best possible future I can make. I have plans to finish at least two novels in progress (After Terra 4 and The Slayer’s Keeper) if not more, and my goal to journey to as much of the world as possible is far from complete.
Above all, I will continue to be, to the furthest extent possible… me. “Me” is something I almost lost touch with in 2017. Who am I? I can give you descriptors, but this is only equivalent to a cover on a book. I’m an introvert. I’m honest. I don’t like to hurt or be hurt; the former gives me anxiety, the latter, is depressing. I don’t like to be misunderstood, yet often am as a quiet, soft-spoken person who suffers from frequent migraines, anemia, and the moodiness brought on by this. I’m an asocial, awkward human who oft prefers the company of animals, books, and machines over other humans, yet I thrust myself into the role of a self-publishing author, something that demands socializing and networking if one wants to be successful in the endeavor. I’m a person who is oft a loner yet is lonely. I appreciate cleanliness, brevity, and efficiency, yet am seen to be astoundingly lazy in everyday matters such as the folding of clothes, the washing of dishes, or the stocking of foodstuffs in a refrigeration unit. My Netflix queue might have Bob Ross painting happy trees one night, then the next be filled with bloody disgusting horror films, then the next it will be all absurd British comedy. I might listen to Scandinavian black metal, the soundtrack for Super Meat Boy, and Boston’s debut album on any given day, because, I enjoy all of it. I am a seeming mess of contradictions. I am a piece of carbon-based flotsam stuck to planet Earth, floating around in a vast, unknown universe. I’m okay with not having all the answers even as I search for them, I’m okay with not being perfect, because I believe perfection, like the year on a calendar, is a fake, arbitrary thing that humans made up to make their place in the universe seem less scary. (If perfection is real and can be attained, then maybe we don’t have to die or ever be forgotten in the grand cosmic scheme of things… it’s a nice thought)
I am a creative force, I am a storyteller. I know I was never meant to be an engineer, a doctor, or a mechanic. I am interested in learning as much about those things as possible for the sake of knowledge and perspective, but it is only in the telling of stories that I feel any sense of true fulfillment. It is what I am meant to do and how I am meant to contribute to the human experience. Where would the world be without stories? It would certainly be a vastly different place.
What matters most as the calendars flip over, is that I am true to myself. That has before and will again ruffle some peoples’ feathers. As nice as it would be for everyone to get along, some people are determined to be assholes, or they’re so slavishly dependent on the status quo that anything or anyone who rocks it, who questions it, is a threat. So be it. All I can do is learn what lessons I can from the past and move forward. I’ve made mistakes and will make more. The way I look at the world tomorrow may be different than today, because I see nothing wrong with adjusting one’s social, political, or spiritual attitudes based on new knowledge and experiences. Any belief system based on unyielding rigidity is one that leaves you locked in place, unable to adapt to a world and a universe that changes and flows like water, sweeping you aside in your self-imposed obsolescence. As long as one is honest, true to themselves, and not willing to turn a blind eye to injustice and imbalance merely because it doesn’t agree with your preconceived world view, what more can reasonably be asked?
That’s where I am now. Let’s see how it goes. This was the year 2017. Signing off…