As we all know, past is prologue. So, in brief, 2016 was a mixed bag. Certainly, a lot of notable people died -- some of them celelebrities, others simply useful in a vast number of fields. But people were born, too. Quite likely some of the children who were born last year will change the world. Hopefully for the better. Besides I long ago accepted that mortality is the spice that makes living worthwhile. I lost my father when I was 24 and my mother more recently, and, over the course of my life, many good friends have left this world. I feel bad about the loss of a favorite singer or actor and regret the passing -- especially the too soon passing -- of anyone who has striven to make the world a better place. But none of that matters (to me) in the face of the death or illness of a close friend or family member.
But enough about them. This blog is about me.
I had a satisfying creative life. Two stories were published and I wrote a couple more -- one of which is already sold. I won an Aurora Award (with Mike Rimar) for editing the Second Contacts anthology and also put my name on another anthology (again with Mike), Lazarus Risen. I edited three novels for Bundoran Press and bought three more for publication in 2017. I ran a reasonable successful fundraising campaign so I can pay a decent rate for our next anthology, 49th Parallels, which I will edit solo.
My work at the Senate remained interesting -- but was conducted in full knowledge that it was my last full year of well-paid employment. My wife, Liz, retired from the governmnet on December 28th and I will follow suit in the next 3 to 4 months. Which means next year will be dramatically different from last -- more freedom but a lot less money.
I had no serious health challenges -- other than aching joints and the fatigue of being (almost) 62 and far too sedentary. It will take an effort to change the advance of entropy next year. And while some friends and family had some health scares, none of them left me. My travel was limited to a week in Mexico and some time out west as well as regular visits to Yellowknife -- including what may have been my last one in November.
And politics. What can I say? I'm reasonably satisfied with the new Canadian government. Far from perfect but who would expect perfection from government (or any other human construct)? It's better that what came before and seems to have an agreeable vision for the future. Far better than what we're seeing in other countries, I think, where everybody wants to turn back the clock to an non-existant 'better days.' These days, even nostalgia ain't what it used to be. I was as shocked and disappointed by the election of Donald Trump as anyone who considers themself remotely progressive. Trump is bad, no doubt, but he's no Vlad Putin.
Which brings us to the turning point.
There are three things I intend to do more of in 2017 than I did in 2016. The first is travel. I'm heading to Mexico in a few days and will enjoy the sun and surf and culture and food for 17 days. Later in the year, we're heading for England for nine weeks -- which will include side trips to Scotland and Cairo (and maybe Berlin) and we'll be out west again in August. And after that, who knows?
Writing is also on my list -- I wrote 3 short stories last year and I want, at a minimum, to double that ourput. I've also been accumulating notes for not one, not two, but three new novels. I plan to get one of them done by this time next year.
The third thing I plan on doing is 'changing the world.' I don't intend to become a revolutionary by any means but I intend to do something -- for a stranger, for my community, country or the world -- that will leave things a little better after I do them than before. It will take a while to get rolling but I don't think it is too ambitious to aim for 26 specific accomplishments before 2017 is done. Because If I don't do them, who will?
One thing I'll keep doing at the same rate is Bundoran Press -- we once again have 3 novels and an anthology on the schedule. As for 2018? I'll let you know.
Some things I intend to try to do less of next year is worry and get angry. Worry is easy but largely pointless -- if something troubles you, act to change it. As for anger -- moral outrage is fine but yelling at people accomplishes nothing. As Matilda says -- if it's not right, you have to make it right. Fight, yes, but for a purpose and in a direction. So, I'm going to try that. And, like all human constructs, it won't be perfect.
As for politics. I think the Canadian governmnet will have a tougher time in 2017 but, if they stick to their principles, will do okay. Which is good enough for Canada.
I'm worried about Europe, of course, especially France which seems likely to turn to the right and Germany, which may be the last bastion of liberal democracy on the continent. Brexit will hurt more people than it will help -- but I sort of think that was the whole idea anyway. Anger and revenge rather than a clear vision of something better.
And Donald Trump? Almost certainly the worst President since Nixon (though he'd have to work hard to be as bad as some the guys from the 19th Century -- and Donny is not know for his work ethic) but probably one of the most ineffectual, too. Some of his Cabinet appointees won't be confirmed -- not because the Senate votes against them but because some of them will quit in the face of sustained nasty questioning. Some who do get confirmed won't be as bad as we suspect (and some will be worse than we can imagine). In any case, Trump will discover that the Senate and Congress, even with Republican majorities (for as long as those last), will not simply role over and do what he tells him. And as for the Blue State governors -- hahaha! Any appointment he makes to SCOTUS will be bad but hopefully he won't get to make two. That would be really bad for a very long time.
Still, America is resiliant and slow to change. It took fifty years to get from the civil rights movement to President Obama. I doubt if it will turn on a dime even if the guy in the White House pouts and calls them meanies for not doing everything he demands. And remember, momentum is a tremendous thing and as powerful as the President is (not as powerful as a Prime Minister with a majority), the future has a mind of its own. You can't make people be who they were last week, let alone fifty years ago and you can't re-create an economy of the 1950s on the back of the digital age. The world has changed -- and mostly for the better -- and won't change back because some people feel disgruntled or deprived or even legitimately aggreived.
Still, for a lot of people, things are going to get rough and even cruel. Which is why people like me -- and like many of you -- have to do a little extra. We need to defend the vulnerable, support the endangered, stand up for rights and democracy, hold our hand out to help and keep our eyes focused on a brighter world.
Because what's that alternative? Curl up and die?