Maniacal, perplexing, mystifying, puzzling, mind numbing, confounding, ass kicking to the curb under the bus, over the river and through the woods; 2016 is gone and if I ever see it again, I’m going to beat it like “never fail meringue,” whip it like party cream, batter it like gulf shrimp, and snatch it bald-headed! What a miserable year it was, and I, for one, am pleased as punch to see it go and hopefully to never to darken my door again.
It seems as though every blessed year at this time, for as long as I can remember, I have said and heard, “Oh, this last year was bad, but next year it’s bound to get better.” I deserve a dose of whup-ass for being so optimistic. Yes, last year was uber-terrible, but the year before was less unpleasant—which was damned awful—the year before that ate the weenie and the one before that was simply gruesome, and on and on and on. Let me ask you this: when was the last year that life did not throw something at you that you would have gladly done without? I don’t mind things not being easy; but, ”temples are graying and teeth are decaying and creditors weighing your purse” is not my idea of a working mantra.
As the eternal optimist, bruised and bloodied that I am, I’m going to be the first (and possibly the only one) to assure you that next year will be better. Sure, last year some of your heroes died, prices went up and not your wages, you spent more at the veterinarian than on your own health care, and a few of your friends spent time in chemo. There was that front-tooth cap that decided to break when the dentist was golfing, the unexpected car repair, your rent was jacked up and you had to vacate; your neighbors got evicted to make room for an Airbnb location. Add to that: the recurring pain in your lower back that’s suddenly attacking you (again); learning that GMOs contributed to your allergies, realizing that termites are eating your floorboards, and, oh yeah, your dog died. You’re living in the crime capital of the country. What else can happen, right? Just you wait.
I have this theory that if life doesn’t kill you outright (and there is always that possibility), it is going to wear you down and wear you down, hoping that you will cease to struggle against its insidious carnival tricks—the ones that get you the pie in the face—and just give up. However, you (and I) will keep coming back like gamblers at the track, waiters at the video poker machine, out-of-work laborers buying scratch-offs and/or lovers in failed relationships betting that things will work themselves out.
Do you want to know why I am not going down without a fight—why I’m going to live a long life and get the most out of it?
The night sky in a riot of colors as the sun sets; coffee in the morning with something freshly toasted; getting in that old car of mine and hearing it turn over from a growl to a purr; whipped cream on sweet potato pie; crows, monk parrots and squirrels; my hot pepper plant when I can pick another red one for spaghetti; waking up with Girlfriend next to me with the dog and the cats all snugged up together; going home after a long day and finding that my daughter has sent me ice cream for my birthday; the beauty and light that surrounds me if I only take a moment to recognize and appreciate it.
I don’t find my self-worth by comparison—judging whether others are less fortunate to elevate my self esteem is unworthy of me—and, I am worthy. Neither do I consider that when a person has more than I—be it fortune, talent or fame—that that should be a cause for envy or jealousy. Those things are simply things that are.
Now, before you start to think that I’m some kind of blissed-out monk, let me stress that I am anything but.
I tend to judge people. By the way they speak, dress, how they treat cashiers, if they litter, and if they return their damn shopping cart to that little shopping cart station in the parking lot. I disapprove of men who wear their trousers below their underwear, who spit in the street, and/or make discourteous remarks to unaccompanied women. I cannot abide by people who take kindness for weakness.
I get angry at people who make general rudeness a lifestyle, mistreat children and animals, and/or drive like they’re from a third world country. I am not understanding about people holding up signs at intersections when I know that everything they’re begging for is already being freely provided by a plethora of social service organizations. I see no reason why an able-bodied person cannot/does not find gainful employment. See? I’m a snob.
But, I tell you, next year it will be better. I’ll be better. I’ll be more tolerant, understanding and patient. And when someone needs some good advice, a shoulder to cry on, a mature outlook, I’ll deliver unto them my new mantra that I recently received from Rooster Sedaris—short version: “Just you wait.” Long version: “I’m here to tell you that everything’s gonna be all right. We’ll get through this sh*t, just you wait!”