Every year for the holiday gift-buying season, mainstream news outlets – particularly The Today Show – make a habit of posting “most dangerous toys” articles for our edification. It seemed like a fun idea to write a similarly-themed article as a means to highlight the year of news, so I set myself to the business of writing. What big news stories of 2015 could I weave into my “dangerous toys” narrative? I was excited to take a poll.
I did my research. Lots of other sources have already done “best of” type stories, so it’s a good place to start. I googled “best of 2015.” I read through a page or two of results. I googled “worst of 2015.” I browsed this list. It was then that the answer hit me in the face:
2015 sucked. There isn’t a nice way to put this, it just sucked. It was awful, violent, acrimonious, depressing and seemingly irredeemable. It sucked.
Straw purchases and dead bodies and racist bilge seeping out of every pipe and fitting of our aging, hobbled political system. Grift and opportunism and showmanship, paving the way for inequity and belligerence and injustice.
A year riddled with bullet holes. Holes taped over by plot gaps, logical fallacies, willful disbelief and other, even less savory bandages. A year that seems to shake it’s fist impotently from it’s hospital bed. At every enemy, every slight, every defeat. A year that leaves us very little room to hope for a brighter successor.
Still I can’t completely write off an entire year, least of all 2015. This was an amazing, banner year for my family. We bought an amazing lake shore-adjacent home that has been my life-long dream. My son has blossomed in this new place into a strong-willed, bright and creative toddler.
We hosted a Thanksgiving feast for our extended family and even reconnected with family that had grown much too extended from us. I end the year blessed to work with the talented BreAnna Bugbee as my intern, serving up fantastic content and making DFE no small amount better for her efforts. 2015 has been good to me.
I’m not sure whether the dichotomy I feel looking back on this year makes it a more or less capricious little universe we live in, where so many suffer so deeply while the rest of us skate by. It is easy to feel conspired-against by a cruel universe; as easy as it is to believe we are the Masters of our own Universes when things go our way. But if we felt exactly the contrapositive, we would be as correct, by the numbers.
Because let there be no mistake: chaos and decision making rule our lives in equal measure. Freewill exists, to the extent that it exists at all, at the momentary vertex of these two forces. One protozoan jinks left, the other right, one gets lucky. One wolf splits from the pack, the other stays. Both choices have their odds of success. But there are no statistics for the individual in that moment. There is only a final tally.
Everything about biology bears this out, down to the organic chemical level: it is hardly the best-evolved trait that flourishes in an evolutionary world. It is merely the one borne on the DNA of the species most likely to reproduce. “Survival of the Fittest” is itself a capricious process.
But before we drown our tears in the fickle frothiness of the multiverse from which our universe is sprung – before we throw our hands up in the face of a hopeless battle against unknowable odds – it’s worth noting that we were born into a universe with enough artistry to allow only one-way travel along the 4th Dimension.
We live in the universe where traveling backward in time would require accelerating past the speed of light. In this universe, doing so would require an infinite amount of energy and stop time for the traveler. Thus, redoing history is impossible. You cannot go back and improve your station. You cannot go back and ruin it. The dark times that haunt you live only in your mind. And the happy times can live there forever, too, if you allow it.
In this world, as the phrase goes, let me have my world. Because it is only in that world that history can have any meaning, or that grieving can know closure. Wonderful moments can be halcyon. Thunderclouds can recede. And for all of these reasons, I wish the Year 2015 safe journey downstream. Let it float away and be what memory will have of it.
Thank you very much, all my friends and followers and readers. Happy New Year, and I look forward to seeing you in 2016!