Evidently for almost everyone else, 2016 was the annus horribilis. And why? If you read all the posts and listen to what you hear around you, it was a terrible year because of… celebrity deaths. “Fuck you, 2016!” became the mantra of a people too obsessed by far with fame.
Yes, there was an election that most of us in the U.S. (and elsewhere!) are pretty steamed about. But mostly the slur on 2016 is because the grandma on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” among others, died. At age 81. Other ages among those celebrity deaths: 80, 82, 84, 90. Abe Vigoda was 94. Too soon!
For me, the annus horribilis was 2015. A close friend of 25 years died after a long, painful, valiant fight against cancer. I had all sorts of family and professional turmoil that — and I’m being honest here — would have sent some people to a psychiatrist’s office or to heavy drinking. I spent at least a day a week for months in one oral surgeon’s chair or another having some very complicated and painful dental and surgical maneuvers done, to the tune of $8,000 out-of-pocket, above the insurance coverage. (I vividly remember driving to San Diego late one evening pulling wad after blood-soaked wad of gauze out of my mouth and pitching them onto the Golden State Freeway.) And to cap it off, just before Christmas, my beloved dog of 17 years had a massive stroke that rendered her insensate near dusk on an afternoon… and then she lingered all night while we waited for the vet’s office to open so she could finally die.
2016, on the other hand, has been a sheer delight. Seriously.
I saw some great concerts (including one of the best concerts of my life, by Modern English at the Echoplex, a night of ecstatic unexpected joy in a small club, where I got to stand close and see a band of friends of 30 years rip through their set like they were still 25 years old); finally got to hear Satie’s “Trois Gymnopedies” played live (thank you, Pasadena Symphony); I’m 72 pages into writing a new play that I actually still like; my professional life is sound and very fulfilling; everyone around me seems fit and healthy; and I’m at the gym every other day. And we got a new dog, a smooth-hair fox terrier, who is enormous energetic fun.
No complaints about 2016.
(Except David Bowie dying — please ignore what I said about celebrities above. Plus that election thing.)
Now, as I finish editing this, the fireworks have started outside and it’s 2017. I couldn’t be happier that the new year has arrived as I’m writing something. I’m greatly concerned about the country (and the world), and anyone who follows the news will know why. But I can’t do anything (large) about most of that. To paraphrase the handbook of the Stoics, There are things within your power and things outside your power; the things within your power you control, and the things outside your power you let go.”
2016 was so much better than 2015 partly because I planned it that way. Barring a meteor strike in your life — as when I could have been killed in a major car accident five years ago — you can accomplish a lot with planning. I studied 2015 and set out to learn the lesson; we all make mistakes, and I’ll make new ones, I thought, but let’s not let these things happen again.
I’ve drafted a plan for 2017 as well. Some of it is on paper (well, on-screen) and some of it’s in my head. I’m going to continue supporting what I support, and doing what I do, and other things… other things, I’m going to let go.