Thursday, December 29, 2016

It's Almost Over.

It has been an excruciating, fascinating year.

I know. I know people are angry about 2016. It's been a year of death and destruction and a lot of fear. We have a President-elect that makes half the country nervous and the other half ... kind of smug. (Not a good combination. And yes, I know I'm seriously downplaying that right now because quite frankly, I still don't know what else to say.) And we lost a stack of artists, athletes, and pioneers -- Prince and David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder, from as young as Anton Yelchin at 27 to John Glenn at 95. Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer, Elie Wiesel, Harper Lee, Dave Mirra, Janet Reno, Leonard Cohen, Garry Marshall, Sharon Jones, Ron Glass, Florence Henderson, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and oh my goodness, this could be a really long list.

[Both Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra's sons died, too. Sheesh.]

Plus all the bombings and shootings and violence. Somehow, I'd forgotten that the club shooting in
Orlando was this year. The political stuff, too. Brexit. An incredibly divisive American election that, results aside, has a pile of repercussions in and of itself. (Seriously. How many of your own friends do you see the same way as you did a year ago? Think about it.) Fidel Castro's death, an event I suspect will have effects we haven't yet seen.

Hurricanes. Earthquakes.

This post is also exhausting.
I had hope for 2016 when it didn't start with a family disaster right away, but now ... I'm exhausted.

And yet.

And yet there have been good things.

One of my brilliant cousins (I'm grateful to say I have a lot of brilliant cousins) posted about this a couple weeks ago and I admit, I'm totally stealing some of her material. Or at least her summary work.

In endangered species news, pandas have been removed from the list. Also, for the first time in a century, there's been a rise in the number of tigers in the wild. While this is only two species, it's a sign -- what we do can make a difference, for good as well as for bad.

In Planet Earth news, the ozone has started to heal itself in the Antarctic thanks to us catching our mistakes and cutting back on things like CFCs. Seriously -- what we do can make a difference.

In pop culture news, Star Wars had a much more successful introduction to a new generation than the last round. Possibly more exciting (or at least more surprising), a video game was introduced that actually got people out and moving, which you may recognize as the opposite of what video games usually do. As of December 7th, Pokemon Go users had logged more than 8.7 billion kilometers (5.4 billion miles) of walking.

In the medical world, there have been advances made both in ALS research (thanks in part to the ice bucket challenge -- that's right, it actually helped) and HIV vaccine research. Can I just say -- this is huge. These are two incredibly complex, debilitating diseases that affect millions of people and they have stumped researchers for years. Progress in either would be impressive -- progress in both is absolutely amazing.

In sports news, Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian yet and the Cubs broke a massive streak and won the World Series. (Regardless of allegiances, I find both of those very cool.)

And announcements for how and when we will try to send people to Mars have been made. Whether or not you support that idea, the advancements that come with such an endeavor will be phenomenal. The Space Race of the '60s basically gave us the modern world -- we need that kind of project again, guys.

Here's the thing. When things were good, they were exceptionally good, and when they were bad they were terrible. 2016 has been a year of extremes and mayhem -- perhaps what we can hope for with the next year is quiet.

As a matter of fact, that's it. That's what I'm hoping for. Why? Because progress is often quiet. Peace is quiet. Good news rarely seems newsworthy.

I'm thinking that in the grand scheme of things, quiet is the best indicator of a good year.

As for me ... I need to start packing everything I own. Wish me luck.

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