Christmas Eve, 2016
It’s Christmas Eve. Santa rides this evening….and in the wee hours when the kids are down it’s a great night for reflection. The house dark except for the tree lights…and maybe a gas fireplace roaring at the flick of a light switch. Drink in hand….we can ponder. We can conjure up all the lost dogs and mixed blessings of the past year, and vow to do better. We can stop taking for granted those we love, and maybe pledge to right any wrongs we’ve done. We can, for a few quiet moments at least, allow all the accumulated weariness to fall away. We can talk in whispers and hold onto each other for dear life and sleep the sleep of wounded but grateful survivors. Because we made it one more lap around the sun.
Feelings this warm never last long, of course. But the key to not needing medication is to recognize them as they happen, and harness their power the same way the bloodstream harnesses a .5 benzo.
This past year has pretty much sucked. Too many great ones have died and too many assholes have remained alive. We somehow managed to elect Donald Trump President. We’ve lost loved ones and jobs and health benefits and gotten sick and not gotten better. Safety nets are being dismantled by angry rich white men, who of course don’t need safety nets. We’ve grated on each others nerves and made fools of ourselves in Facebook and Twitter comment wars. We’ve spent way more time binge watching Netflix than we have talking to each other. And we’ve done all of this with heads buried in our phones. I have to think 2017 is gonna be better, if only because the thought of it being worse is unbearable.
So the glass is either half-full or half-empty. The optimist or the pessimist. We choose sides. But when you’re really thirsty that glass is gonna be empty with one swig, and what we’re left with is something we can all agree on. Thirst is coming soon. And then we panic and start hitting each other over the head. Because that’s what panicked people do. They hit each other over the head. And when somebody asks “why are you hitting that man over the head?”, instead of saying “because I want his drink” we say “because he’s different..and he doesn’t belong”. Hate is insidious, but it’s not hard to understand.
Maybe we could take the pessimist and the optimist and put ’em together…with their glasses….and pour one into the other….so they have a single glass filled to the brim. And then they can share it. How’d that be for a cool 2017 eh? Some solidarity. And when the glass was emptied, they’d walk together to the river and fill ‘er back up again. Certainly expending less energy than trying to kill each other first, then heading to the river alone and having to wipe away the evidence.
Yea, I’m a dreamer and those last two paragraphs are a bit over the top and borderline incoherent. But still. I’ve always thought it was easier to help somebody up than to keep them down. Being nice to someone is a lot simpler than being a dick. I’m 50 years old. I adore simplicity.
We always make all sorts of resolutions as the year ends. We’re gonna hit the gym and stop eating weekender bags of Middleswarth barbecue chips in a single sitting, or at least switch to light beer. By mid January the gym membership is dusty, the couch is coated with chip residue from mindless hand rubbing, and the Budweiser 6 pack has turned into a Miller Lite 12 pack. And so it goes. These types of resolutions rarely stick because they’re not simple. Life is hard enough without making it harder.
But being a better humanoid IS simple. It really is. You don’t have to go to the gym or give up chips and beer. You smile and say good morning and excuse me and you let that car in that’s trying to merge. You tip your waitress and bartender a few extra percentage points. You help the new guy at work and you say you’re sorry when you mess up. If your neighbor is laid up you shovel his sidewalk for him. If you see folks don’t have enough, and you have some extras, you quietly pass it along. You let the people you love know you love them and you try like hell to hate with less intensity. If you can’t think of something nice to say, that’s the cosmos telling you to shut the fuck up. Sit with your family and watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas….and then leave the house thinking “what would Linus do?”
Man, the world would be a better place then, eh?
Merry Christmas bubba.
In a bit..