"Fast away the old year passes...hail the new, ye lads and lasses!" There are many who would join me in happily shutting the door on 2016 with hopes that 2017 will prove itself to be a much happier year. 2016 was the Year of Juxtaposition for me. Success and failure. Joy and sorrow. Achievement and loss. Collaboration and conflict. Birth and death. Each tempered the other. Abundant stress is detrimental to good health - even too much good stress can play a part in causing damage, flooding the body with chemicals like epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. When it's already battered from bad stress, this flood does no favors. This must be where Nietzsche developed his famous quote regarding what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Some stress will indeed strengthen us, it keeps us alert, it helps us focus. Too much knocks us off our feet and beats us down like hail on a Dakota wheatfield.
Of course, I'm hoping (unrealistically) for a 2017 to be a year of minimal stress. 2016 saw me completing my master's degree in education, getting a job teaching 5/6th grade at a great school, teaching classes at an awesome fitness facility, building my credentials as a certified fitness trainer by completing CEUs to up my game from instructor to cycling master practitioner, yoga master practitioner and kickbox practitioner. It's hard to fully enjoy all of that wonderful good stress, all the hours, weeks and months of hard work for which at any other time I would have felt intense satisfaction. All that personal success and growth - it pales in comparison to the loss of Patrick.
The eight days spent in the varying levels of cardiac ICU were by far longer, and more arduous than any other time I can remember. Those who know me have heard me discuss my views on the viscosity of time. Time is fluid, but I believe it is chameleon-like. Sometimes it flows like water, racing past; other times, it sluggishly oozes along with the consistency of pudding. A million variations, all leading up to 10 seconds that feels like a minute, 10 hours that feels like a lifetime and a lifetime that passed by in a blink. Every moment of those 8 days watching him fight for his life was slow, painful and horror was juxtaposed with hope as time seemed to hold its breath. And then WHOOSH, the sand ran out, the timer was flipped and the pace became startlingly speedy in comparison. Here I stand, almost suddenly, at the cusp of the new year, nearly six months out from that fateful day in July.
I gained two beautiful grandchildren who just light up the world and they, along with my other grandchildren, are healing beacons of hope. Death and loss I think, are the greatest diminishers of one's ability to ability to be fully exuberant. I say to fight the melancholy, Fight the urge to sink into the depths of grief, claw and scratch your way back if you have to, but somehow get to a place where you can delight in the smile of a baby, the first time a toddler says your name, the sounds of grandchildren telling you they love you and that feeling of their small hands embraced by yours. Hold onto these moments and create mental talismans that you can use to ward off the dark.
Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time and a season for every purpose under heaven. This year the times and seasons were a jumbled, chaotic blur. So hail the new! Here's to a zephyr instead of a maelstrom.