Do we get a do-over come New Year’s Day? I always hear about New Year’s resolutions, but do we get any brownie points for trying to do better? Resolutions to improve, reduce, save money, be kinder, volunteer, stop eating animals, go back to school, be a better friend, garden more, walk the dog more, swear less—these are all well-intentioned vows, hopes, and ambitions. But why do we think that the New Year has any motivational significance? Does the changing of the numbers really have meaning? Is 2019 a better set of numbers, and if so, why were we led to feel hopeful anticipation when the calendar rolled over to 2-0-1-8? In with the new and out with the old. “Now, this year’s gonna be better!” Really? Why? Why would one day make all the shit that has occurred null and void? Can we truly have a clean slate? Or is it more of a comb-over than a do-over—covering over a year that was bald and barren of positive growth?
“Goodness Debbie, aren’t you a sour puss. What’s with the pity party?” Glad you asked. Ever feel like you, and all those and that about you which touch your world, are spinning out of control—like some kind of all-encompassing Mercury retrograde? Your luck and monetary well-being and that of your friends are malfunctioning. Sure, dashes of kindness come your way, but the good fortune seems stymied by the bad. I know we are not alone in this and that friends, right this minute, are suffering far greater indignities; but come on, let’s have a stronger showing by the forces of good.
I feel much the same as I did in the days following Katrina; to a degree, I shut down—felt like I needed to cry but could not. Ever feel that pressure behind your eyes—a heaviness that doesn’t hurt, but reminds you that there is a dam about to burst? Fear freezes you. And when too many things go haywire at once, the ability to focus and regroup, to tackle problems and issues, to fix the broken things, becomes next to impossible. You take two steps forward, and then you are forced four steps back. Add to this the sensation of being on a ladder when this occurs—a rotten and wobbly ladder. So, I ask again: Can I, may I, have a redo, come January 1? I’ll even be happy with a mere rebooting.
In the meantime, while we wait out this run of muck, hoping for better luck, we find solace in evening escapes. I have always turned to my television for after-work diversions (and a good book or my newspaper for morning-coffee escapes before facing the real world). For some wacky reason, I find the broadcast news and “What the hell has POTUS done today?” will effectively take my mind off myself—much like a horror movie. Often Boyfriend and I retreat in different directions—The British Baking Show for him and Homeland for me (two TVs allow for each of our mood-altering moods). But lately, we feel like we are together on a sinking ship and need to be buoyed with a “We are in this together—let’s find and share some retreat from reality.” Yes, misery does love company.
Well, last week I stumbled upon the perfect attitude adjuster: Stranger Things (Netflix). This coming-of-age adventure/horror/suspense channels and invokes a King/Gaiman/Bradbury genre and reliably captures the essence of good vs. evil and allows adults to time-travel back to one’s youth. Our youth was when all things were still possible, before magic and monsters were relegated to mere memories, concepts that as adults, we feel that we must discredit. But there are monsters, and whether they manifest themselves in the Oval Office or as a cancer, they exist. Magic? I have to believe it is there, but you must look really hard to see or feel it. This was why our excursion into the world of horror and the humanity of a handful of characters (mostly kids) who were willing to take on evil really resonated with us.
We found that we—unwittingly at first, and then with determination—made a fort of sorts on our daybed with our pillows. And there, with lights dimmed, we huddled together with our dog and watched this show that had us cheering and screaming like kids. We instantly mastered the suspension of disbelief. Now, for the past week, whenever the woes and setbacks appear that seem to besiege us all day, every day, we look at each other knowing that come evening, in our comfort zone, our fort, we will face the monsters, those at a safe distance from us, the ones on the other side of the TV screen—and we will kick some monster ass, and, for a moment, we’ll get to win.
Can our problems be resolved with a viewing binge and buttered popcorn? Hell no. But does it allow us a chance to breathe more easily, to forget the horrors of real life, and reboot our attitudes? Yes! My inner child, the part of me, of us, that once felt all things were possible, is slightly fortified, and this makes us a bit stronger to face another day. Even when we take more steps back than forward, at least we gain some glide to our strides.
So, the question remains: Will 2019 be a fresh start or more of the same? Can we change course with our attitudes? I do not know, but I will choose to enlist my attitude as my weapon of choice and will try, once again, to believe in the magic of the positive. Watch out, monsters—here we come again, and this time, we’re serious.