For the last few years, most people have happily kicked the old year to the curb and embraced the New Year with hope and optimism (though this year, it seems, with more hope than actual optimism). Still, one can dream that this is the year that the old paradigms will fail, the system will be transformed, that good will triumph over ill.
And we will all be more productive, thinner, fitter, younger (I said it was a dream) and kinder human beings. Of course, we will, it’s all those other people who will fail to make the change. Oh, well.
I don’t believe that history repeats itself but human behavior certainly does. The sad thing is not that we will make mistakes in the coming year but they will likely be the same mistakes we promised ourselves to learn from. The triumphs of the coming year are not likely to be something completely new either (unless we are in that magic age between 15 and 25 when everything we do is completely new—to us at least) but rather will be a better version of past success. The next novel will be better than the one before; the next vacation will be exactly as planned and so on.
I did say that actual optimism is hard to find.
It is hard sometimes to believe in the future, especially when the future seems likely to be much shorter than the past. Based on my family history, my life is already 85% over. Even with the benefits of modern medicine and a middle-class lifestyle, I might ratchet that down to 75%, but let’s face it, those last few years are not likely to be stellar. On the bright side, my chances of dying in a major storm, or a nuclear attack, have seldom been better.
Nonetheless, I do believe in the future even if I won’t get to experience it. I know the world will not end with me, even I won’t end with me, as the planet re-cycles my constituent parts and distributes them randomly around the globe. A thousand years from now, parts of me might drift in the deep ocean, reside in a leaf and the insect sitting on it or, even, as part of the little finger or frontal cortex of the first person to leave the solar system. What wonders my elements will see!
I sometimes find it odd that so many people deny the reality of the future—and their role in and responsibility for future events—even while they cling to the dead beliefs and systems of the past. They dismiss their power to reshape the future into their better nature while trying to re-write the past to suit their darkest prejudices. The past is nothing but competing myths, the present is over before you notice it is there, but the future is a land of endless possibility.
The world will go on and maybe even go on as a place fit for human life only if we, collectively, do things that make it so. No better world except we make it. It has become a popular mantra to say the individual has no power; it’s all been concentrated in the hands of the few. Those on the right embrace this idea, depending on the Übermensch to save the day. (Elon Musk is not going to save either the world or humanity; it’s not clear he can even save Twitter.) Those on the left, having lost their class consciousness, are too busy fighting over nomenclature to actually make a difference. Those in the middle are going “la la la” and fiddling while Rome burns (Surely there is something on Amazon I can order to soothe my nerves).
Oh well, I’ll be dead soon so what do I care? Hmm, I think my first resolution for 2023 is to stop saying “oh, well.”
Back to the original intent of this little missive. 2022 was like most years—it had its ups and its downs, though at the time the peaks and valleys seemed more extreme. My wife, Liz, suffered through the deterioration and eventual replacement of her hip. It was horrible to see her pain and the muting of her spirit that this affliction entailed. Yet, at the same time, I felt uplifted by being her caregiver, fulfilling the vow of “for better or for worse.” While it seemed that I was working all the time, the responsibility of doing something to make life better for someone gave me the energy to be productive. Now that she’s fully recovered, I don’t seem to have any energy. Hmm. Maybe I should push… no, no, I guess I’ll try to get more sleep instead.
And then there was the convoy… We survived both personally and as a city and a country, but if they come back, I’m dropping flowerpots on their heads.
On the other hand, I sold my first science fiction novel in nearly a decade, just shortly after I was inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association Hall of Fame. I have another (mystery) novel drafted and well-developed ideas for two more books (one of each genre) to work on for next year. I sold some stories and helped my condo board solve some problems. I made some money editing and ghost-writing, which means the current inflation and interest rate rise doesn’t hurt quite so much. My own health was generally good other than the aches and miseries that come from the winding down of the entropy clock. I was able to travel a little, see friends and do things that I didn’t even know I missed so much.
For 2023, I feel as energetic as one can, looking forward to writing and reading new books and new ideas. Travel will be back on the agenda (with vaccine boosters as required) with visits to old favorites and new vistas. By this time next year, I hope to have polished my completed mystery novel and written another book or two and sold a few short stories, too. Plus, I will be thinner, fitter, kinder and more productive but, sadly, not younger.
I did read 65 books last year but a lot of them were short. I will write a separate blog about my favorites soon.
I hope your 2023 will bring you everything you desire and none of what you fear. Be well. Be strong. Be happy.
Meanwhile, here’s a few pictures to cheer you along.