2011 may have come and gone, but don’t expect a year to go by without anyone noticing it. Granted some people fail to remember their breakfast this morning and others, perhaps in a more worrying sign of absentmindedness, look back at the year only to wonder what they have to show for. The more astute among us note some prestigious accolade. Others think about cherished relationships developed with family and friends. Me? I think it was just another year.
Now don’t get me wrong, things changed. They always do. They always will. But if change is constant, then in fact, nothing has changed. The only thing from year to year that can be guaranteed is change. Next year will bring more of the same. As will the year after that. This year was no different.
“But that can’t be correct”, you say. “At least, not this year. So much happened in 365 days. There was a double-whammy earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan. Protests revolutionizing the world. Distinguished human beings passing away. The whole shebang and then some.”
In fact there was such an overwhelming number of remarkable events jumbled into a single year that it appears to be impossible to comment on the year as a whole. It would take too long. Consequently, many will try to encapsulate the year in a few words. “Last year was a crazy year,” they say. “It was unpredictable. Absolutely changed everything. The tour-de-force was unparalleled.” And so on. Here I will do very much the same but instead I will use two words only: 2011 was.
Perhaps it is due to my propensity to describe things as simply as possible, or perhaps I am being pretentious in my simplicity, but I am unable to describe 2011 as anything else. This is because ‘2011 was’ means something different for everyone.
Looking back, it could be said that ‘2011 was’ a year of protest, revolution, tragedy, triumph, sadness, joy, bitterness, hate, racism, atrocity, failure, success, disappointment, happiness, and everything and anything in between. It was painful. It was a breeze. It was somewhere in the middle. The year was what we made of it – whatever that was. We got older, stupider, wiser, and more foolish. We made mistakes. We learned from them. Sometimes we didn’t. And whatever we did, whatever we thought, and however we may have acted in a year that had everything in it, we are here now.
Welcome to 2012.
Sure – some of us didn’t make it and maybe weren’t meant to. But those of us still around can look back on the year, and see all that we did, and hope that we – like the year – have changed. Whatever troubles we had, we hope that they made us stronger. Whatever successes we garnered, we hope we can build on them. In the end, we hope we have become a better person.
But most haven’t. We will always be the same no matter the year because humanity is one-dimensional. The mistakes we made last year, we have made before. The wars we’ve waged, we have waged before. The ideas we’ve had, others have had before us. In the end, whatever we think, accomplish, or do for better or for worse has been done before. We are not original. Originality is dead. It died with us. Instead, all that remains is a cycle, and it is the same for everyone. We live. We die. We are never again.
Yet, although it is true we are doomed to persist in a ceaseless cycle year after year after year, we can only hope for something else, something better. We can see our evils and machinations, cradle our disappointments, and realize the corruption we have wrought, but in the end our hate and bitterness will dry up. In its wake, we can only hope. And every year we do. This year is no different. It is just another year of hope.
We hope to be skinnier. We hope to be nicer. We hope that the clouds we rest our goals on are as soft as we imagine them to be. We hope.