Some say time is a construct, an arbitrary measure of days passing, marked by a calendar that was created to restore order to holidays surrounding the birth and resurrection of Jesus. We began counting Earth’s rotation on January 1 since the year 1582. While arbitrary in the sense that time is meaningless and we’re all gonna die anyway, the Gregorian calendar has been in place for 435 years. Although many celebrate holidays according to Jewish or Chinese calendars, it’s still a feat of global unity that we all function using one standard measurement of time. And so we arrive at the end of another 365 days, another year passes, another day upon us to wipe slates clean, as we prognosticate new plans and goals. Last year’s regressions are deleted from the calculation, our chance to hit the reset button is here, on the first day of January we can start fresh. I always love this day, all stark white and wintery-hued, decor returned to minimalism, the hustle and bustle reduced to quiet, and the oncoming normalcy is a comfort. It always takes me by surprise to notice my own lightness, as my mix of PMS and anxiety—exacerbated by the unpredictability of family dynamics—dimishes and is replaced with relief that it’s passed.
In my mind, there is a point to counting time, it’s a line in the sand to remind us that an elliptical orbit around the Sun has ended where it began. And it’s hard not to notice the sliding of time as daylight fades into darkness and eventually transcends into hazy summer twilight. The passage of time is not arbitrary or made up, we see our kids change from chubby little babies to independent proto-adults. Time does move, it’s how we count it that may be random and perhaps our insistence that each year has its own personality as if a new one will arrive to save the day. I read that the first of January is often the coldest day of the year across the globe, so there is a sense that something connects us and traditions to mark this passing are cathartic and imbued with our own useful meaning. I also read that this first month of our Gregorian calendar is named after Janus, the god of beginning and transitions, although there is some dispute over this naming convention, I can see why those before chose this deity. I think we can agree, that collectively us humans have created a social norm that the changing of the year is a transition, like it or not.
I think of this day as the brink of past and future, a splintering faultline that we straddle while we pray for the past and hope for goodness in the days to come. Perhaps this is why the ominous tone of the coming year feels so disquieting, something we can’t ignore because it feels out of our control. I have heard more than one person refer to 2016 as a terrible year and that 2017 will be even worse. In years past, friends wouldn’t have dared to place such a negative prediction for the future, we’ve been so trained to think positive, hope for the best, always look for the bright side. And I think we’re all trying to do that but for once we may have rescinded the idea that just praying and hoping won’t make goodness magically appear. For the first time, I am so clear that if I want to do anything, in my home, my neighborhood, city, state, nation, and for the future of this beautiful blue planet, then I’m going to have to take it on myself. But I don’t feel alone, along with the dismal predictions, cynicism, fear and the unsettled feeling in the air, I also feel a large burst of energy, cohesion, unity, and action. So many friends that have usually remained on the sidelines are activating, right now we’re meeting, discussing, sharing ideas, concerns, and agendas. Documents are being gathered, resources, plans, structures put in place, the organizing is palpable and just where we need to be at this moment in time. I feel a little pulled in every direction, that’s for sure, but I’m also trying to bend like a willow tree, swaying back and forth between ideas and groups, learning where I will need to plant myself. This flowing around is absolutely okay and necessary. We’ve been complacent, intractable with our values, our current forms of institutions have failed us, we have no strong direction or leader and yet I see opportunity ahead. Because we need to let whatever force for change that is going to happen next year, and perhaps the years after, to build organically, by the will of the people, by our thoughts and ideas. Yes, right now they’re all over the place in a way, but I can see where the laser beam of light is headed, its refracted glow is sharpening inward and we will see the path lit up soon. I have no doubt about it and that’s my hope a laser beam to fight off the dark forces that are in power. This is not done by movie magic or wishful thinking but with hard, uncomfortable work that will be in addition to our daily lives. I will have to maintain energy and focus, something I’m not always very good at but I’m willing to practice because I just may have to out of necessity.
For me, 2016 was a year of transition, I moved away from feeling insignificant, or unsure of myself and for the first time in many years I am absolutely clear on what I stand for and why I am here. My anxiety no longer stems from confusion or lack of direction but from the fact that I don’t think I have enough time to do everything I want and understandably I get bogged down by regrets. I know that first and foremost, I am a mother. It’s a role I take seriously, and this identity is the fuel that keeps me moving forward, because if all goes to plan a part of me that will be on this planet long after I am gone. I am also a wife and feel grateful that my husband is stoically on my side, never getting in my way and honoring my decisions to fight the power! I told him that he and my girl are the only two people I need to do right by, I don’t need validation from anybody else. If my actions harm or get in the way of these two people I will make adjustments accordingly. This clarity is what I need to move forward, and both of them understand this without any doubt. In the past few months, especially since November 9th, this is what I’ve been doing, clearing my path, talking with more people, testing ideas, researching and preparing. It feels so right to be doing this and it doesn’t feel strange or unnatural.
I will also add, that writing this blog is a huge part of my efforts, I still plan to continue to journal my thoughts, again as a voice in this human experiment, as a regular person during this time in history, someone not affiliated with a certain group, but with a cause and hunger for knowledge and justice. And as it always happens, I get clues to keep on my path, even if I feel so alone at times, or even invalidated or delusional. Right when I start to spiral, I usually get a sign. Recently, one was to join a group of writers, many of them are women of color but so far the group is growing and expanding to include many voices. The call is to write 52 essays in 52 weeks starting on Jan.1. So I took heed because I need the support even if I am so passionate, outspoken, opinionated, arrogant, single-minded, whatever you want to call it, I still freak out all the time! I can go weeks feeling really strong and then some small event, comment or experience will crumble me to the ground. I recently sat curled up on my kitchen floor, crying about the future, with snot dribbling down my chin, while my husband held me and eventually walking me upstairs to bed. It’s not a pretty vision, but it’s the damn truth, I take a lot in and I expel just as much, sometimes with direct positive action, sometimes with tears. I hope to make those teary moments happen less, at least for the comfort of my family, but I can’t guarantee success on this point. However, I will do my best and I know what to do, walks, talks, good food, art, and most importantly writing in my own voice, in my own forum with free expression—these are all healing activities. I do feel like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, that I am writing like I’m running out of time, I bet a lot of you can relate! So let’s do it, and write our hearts out for posterity, for health, and most important for the protection of TRUTH.