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Lumps, bumps and fireworks

How the year starts doesn't determine how it will end
Shelley Column Pic
Taking the lumps of the new year

I was ten years old and it was New Year’s Eve. My family joined with others at the home of some friends where there were lots of kids to play with and a family room full of games and great spaces to hang out. But as the evening wore on I became less involved in the activities and more comfortable curled up in a pile of throw cushions. It was more than fading energy after hours of sugar-fuelled fun. I was genuinely feeling unwell. The next morning I woke up with the mumps. Happy New Year! But 364 days later I was watching New Year’s Eve fireworks at a theme park in southern California and having a wonderful time with my family. How the year begins is no indication of how it is going to end.

Whether we were awake or not when it happened, the clock slipped past midnight on the last moments of 2021, ushering us seamlessly into a new year, and with it a host of dreams, plans and intentions. Or did it?

Less than one third of people made resolutions heading in 2022, fewer still say they are making many plans for the coming year. The unpredictability of life around the globe is keeping many from putting too much anticipation into travel destinations, major events or even new opportunities in the coming months. It’s understandable. Disappointment after disappointment when it comes to big or little things have caused many to be reluctant about looking ahead because it seems that when we do, we suffer another setback.

Yes, the uncertainty of new variants, or potential new restrictions and their impact on work and family life makes it challenging to be optimistic at what the coming year may bring. But COVID is only one piece of the puzzle--a very complicated puzzle—much of which we can’t see. Other pieces are equally outside our ability to predict: illness, grief, job loss, weather events, social change and more. Those elements have always been, and continue to be, beyond our control. But we also need to remember so much else is directly within our grasp to impact.

We can be kind, giving, and understanding. We can live lives that are honest, upright and accountable. We can behave in a way that is respectful, compassionate, and aspirational. Those are aspects of our lives that can’t be diminished by what is going on around us. They may be getting chipped away and downright eroded in some corners, but we can work to keep them solid in ours.

We all dealt with disappointments last year…for some even hardships…that continued on from the year prior. There were more surgeries cancelled, education put on hold, and incomes that didn’t keep up. There were places we couldn’t go and people we couldn’t see. But if I look a bit closer, there are things that bring a smile to my face as well. I saw a handful more places in the province I’d never visited before.  Projects around the house got checked off. And through the pages of this newspaper I got the chance to share the stories of amazing and resilient people: a survivor of residential schools, a woman who climbed remote spots in Saskatchewan, those who had COVID, former refugees, a woman who has seen a century of Christmas celebrations and so many more people doing great things. As we turned the calendar twelve months ago I had no idea any of those stories would happen. That’s how it is with opportunities. We may not see what exists until it does.

I got on a plane again for a domestic flight. I saw family I hadn’t seen in a number of years. I joined a writer’s group. We had friends in our home. Things that had not been possible months earlier were now realities—ones we were so excited to see take place. Every New Year is like that; so full of uncertainty but also brimming with possibilities.

When we started 2021 we were under the spectre of the pandemic. We woke up on New Year’s Day uncertain how the year would unfold. Sound familiar? Then again…we do that each New Year’s Day. So although we don’t know what the months will bring, we can decide how we are going to respond to whatever that may be. There will be lumps and bumps, bursts of color and excitement, and many days that will hopefully be beautifully extraordinary in the fact that they will feel so delightfully ordinary again. So buckle up for 2022. We have no idea what’s coming. Let the adventure begin. That’s my outlook.