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How to face the new year with optimism? Wreathe it with hope.

Photo: Evayln Baron

The problem with having to write a column to deadline weeks in advance of publishing is that if I choose a topical subject to do with current events, so much is happening in the world, that what may be true one week could radically change by the next. What is current becomes old news, and the rage surrounding that news, exciting when fresh, is depressing when old. Reasons for hope chill in the light of dawning developments. And, lately, we are left on the shore of disappointment time after time as things just seem to get worse.

So what are we to do?

I’ve become the absolute pessimist I never thought I’d become as I view the world and see little or no hope for anything getting better. I see the voters who continue to support the likes of Trump and Roy Moore (who, by the time this is printed either will or won’t be the racist child predator in our Senate — and shame on us all if he is voted in), and I despair that anything will ever get any better. Our lands are being decimated by the greedy, our civil rights are being taken away daily, the rich get richer, and the poor vote for Trump. But then, so do the rich.

It astounds me. How can people of good conscience continue to support this man — whether they be rich or poor?

Because they are so unhappy and feel so victimized, they figure nothing could get worse, so they vote for the opposite of what they experience as the status quo, which is to blame for their troubles. Later, they discover they went from the frying pan into the fire, and have lived to burn in it.

Even the rich will one day miss the national parklands sacrificed to the big oil companies. They just don’t know it yet. Their children will suffer the lack.

We live in regretful times.

Put that in context with January being the time for my yearly mammogram, and there is a perfect storm of doomy gloom to start the new year. That is because I come from a long line of ancestors drenched in the pessimism of the shtetl, the philosophically fatalistic viewpoint of Eastern Europe where it wasn’t a matter of if a Hitler would arise, but when. And that’s how I view my mammogram: not a matter of if there’ll be bad news, but when. It’s just how I’m built. I lose all hope around mammogram time. (Well, not all.)

And so, I am a delightful woman to be around just about now.

Our holidays were lovely, filled with friends, lights, and foods we all shouldn’t eat, and everyone’s generosity toward Peter and me astounded me, as always. We celebrated, we came, we saw, we ate, and we imbibed, and sang a lot around the piano, making lovely harmonies and beautiful music.

But now, it’s January 2018 … 2018? How is that even a thing, 2018? I am living in the future I always went to the movies to see. It’s a sci-fi life.

So what do we do with things called optimism and hope, the two little creatures buried under pounds of Thanksgiving stuffing and Christmas cookies? The two qualities that Trump and his evil minions have done all they can to destroy?

We hang a New Year’s Wreath of Possibility, that’s what, and decorate to honor the future.

At a holiday breakfast with my two dear pals Charles and Patti, I asked where their limitless supply of energetic optimism comes from. Patti is the most active, caring, loving, creative, constructive woman I know, in many arenas of life, and Charles spends his retirement building houses for others (he was voted Best Volunteer 2015 by Habitat for Humanity in Michigan). Patti is the talkative one, the person who usually has something to say about the things that matter in this world, and I adore her for her wisdom. But this time it was Charles, the quiet, wonderful Charles, who spoke up:

“I do it for those who come after me.”

He went on to say, “I may not live to see the results, but there will be good results for the people who come next, based on what I’m doing now.” Or something to that affect. Charles is quiet, but when he speaks it’s with an eloquence and simplicity I can only hope to emulate. He hit that particular nail on the only possible head: We hang on, investigate, have our mammograms, vote, build, meditate and pray, write, and put in our two cents for those who come after us, because, who knows, one day, the good guys might win again. And we need to be there for them when they do. Or at least our children must be — with their heads on straight and their hearts in the right place.

So hang a 2018 Wreath to the Future — and have a happy new year filled with optimism … and voting.

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