Hello there, it's been a while. I've been gone for a minute, sorry about that, but I'm back now. I got myself deep into project mode and then all of a sudden it was December. Why hello there, December. I'm going to do that thing old people do all the time and say, where did the year go? It feels like only yesterday I was comforting a scared cat, just four months out of the animal shelter, because of the flurry of fireworks going off everywhere to bring in 2016.
2016, eh. That was quite a year wasn't it. For my part it wasn't a bad year. I saw all my family this year. My family is spread out around the world so any year in which I see them all is a good year. And as a bonus I saw them all in the same place at the same time this year. Hashtag winning.
But look to the media and apparently 2016 was a decidedly bad year. I get it, lots of not very nice things happened this year. We lost some very influential famous people including Bowie, Prince and Alan Rickman to name a few (after all this time - always), the people of Great Britian voted out of the European Union, Donald Trump is to be the next president of the United States and Brad and Angelina broke up. Not to mention Channel 4 buying the Great British Bake Off and its consequent loss of Mel and Sue and Mary Berry - England's grandmother.
But really, has 2016 been so bad? I mean proportionately, in comparison to other years? Obviously there are parts of 2016's failure as a year that depend completely on perspective. For all those people who voted for Brexit and all those people who voted for Trump 2016 is probably looking like a very peachy year all round. But for the rest of us this year may have left us a little traumatised. Part of me feels like maybe this year has been exceptionally bad and another part wonders if it's really been that much worse than other year. I feel like our society is in this odd place with the media where we are overwhelmed by information but lazy about authentication. Not everything out there is 100% truthful or accurate not to mention how those Facebook, Instagram, Google algorithms feed us the news we want to hear. If you click on one article about how Brexit signifies the beginning of WW3 all articles on your feed thereafter will assume this track and a cycle of fear, hate and ignorance is fuelled. Yes there may be truth to what you read but maybe try to be aware of the level of truth.
It's a sick sad world we live in and simultaneously a magnificent and beautiful place. A volcanic eruption seen on TV is one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen but put my city in the midst of it and I'll be telling you a different story. Maybe it's still too early to be having a reflective moment but a trait of mine that is both a blessing and a curse is that I am always looking forward, and already I'm thinking about what I can in 2017 to turn to horrors of the world into something beautiful.
I've somehow managed to surround myself with saintly friends. I have one friend who works for a charity called New Routes that aids refugees and asylum seekers, another friend who works with the homeless at London City Mission and another friend who works at Macmillan Cancer Support. I have also found through experience that taking a step away from yourself and your own problems and feelings of despair to help someone else does a lot of good for the soul. So the first thing on my agenda for a better 2017 is to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support by hiking the Grand Canyon next Autumn. All donations are highly appreciated.
I also have a cheat. I think it's easier for me not to give in to despair or hopelessness because my life is ultimately not about me. As a Christian I have a responsibility to do what I can to make this world a better place but I also have a comfort in knowing that God is ultimately in control and he has promised good things.
So in this early reflective state, looking back on 2016 and forward to 2017, I am optimistic for the future. Whatever may have happened, whatever will happen, all will be well. Because, as Robert Frost says, 'In three words I can sum up everything I've learnt about life: it goes on.'