2016: There have been many years like it, but this one was special. Like every other year in history, it held a unique spot in the chronology of time — except it unleashed a level of weird à la “Twilight Zone” that very few people expected.
Let’s not forget: A year is an arbitrary concept. Everything that happened this year — coincidentally — fell into a particular 365-day span of time our civilization calls a “year.” “2016” is simply four numbers in succession, representing over two thousand years after the birth of a man who may or may not have really existed. Since the time of my own birth, no other year made me question myself and the world like 2016 did. Regardless, 2016 only represents a small chunk of a greater time continuum — one that throws really great things and really horrible things our way. Remember when the universe annihilated the dinosaurs?
On a more serious note — did we really elect Donald J. Trump as our 45th president?
And how about those unrelenting celebrity deaths? We lost Goblin King David Bowie, Voice-of-God Alan Rickman, the whimsically droll Gene Wilder and keyboard wizard Keith Emerson. We lost the evocative Prince, the impenetrable Muhammad Ali, the “Fifth Beatle” George Martin, and the namesake Arnold Palmer. We lost R2D2 with Kenny Baker, America’s mom Florence Henderson and sanctified musician/poet Leonard Cohen. By some strange twist, 2016 decided it might as well take Fidel Castro while it was at it. As far as 2016 was concerned, nobody was off limits.
On a more personal note, you may have experienced your own horrible lows during 2016. Maybe you lost loved ones, experienced poor health or endured unforgettable, life-changing traumas. You may have stubbed your toe more times statistically this year than any other year of your life. Maybe you had your wisdom teeth pulled. That didn’t happen to me in 2016 — I’m saving that trauma for next year.
On the flip side, you may have experienced plenty of euphoric highs in 2016. You may have excelled in school, found the love of your life, or discovered a life-calling you never even knew existed. Maybe you learned to accept yourself in ways you never imagined. Maybe you watched this year’s election and discovered the motivation to do something bigger and better to further the betterment of society.
Did we really elect Donald J. Trump as our 45th president?
I know the subject has been beaten deep into the ground, but no other election has been as divisive as the one 2016 gave us — holy moly. The Trump-Clinton show blew more people’s heads apart than I can remember. No matter how much Democrats and Republicans alike call for unity, the damage is done. The ideological divide between sects of thought now runs freely and fluidly, with the dark underbelly of the post-racial myth exposed. Let this thought terrify you, empower you, or make you feel both ways at once. In any case, think deeply and critically about how a President Trump could impact the ones most terrified.
Plenty of people in my real-life, social media and entertainment media circuit continue to mention wanting to “forget” 2016 ever happened. Trust me — if the cosmos gave me a chance to redo this year, I’d probably take the chance and save all the money I recklessly spent on snacks. Unfortunately, outside of “Doctor Who,” the movie “Groundhog’s Day,” and my current video production project that parodies “Groundhog’s Day,” the flow of time can’t be repeated or negated. No matter what horrors or highs 2016 wrought upon society, the ending of this 365-day span of time must be accepted for what it was.
Whether this year ended up this way because of cosmic coincidence — or you believe the universe wouldn’t let the Chicago Cubs win the World Series without letting all those other wild happenings run their courses — 2016 made one wacky impact, for the lack of a better adjective. Good news: a whole new year in 2017 draws ever closer. It will bring new uncertainties, new tragedies, and it will indiscriminately kill off whomever it feels like killing off. It’s important for all of us to use the realities of 2016 — and all the years preceding it — as momentum to propel forward, for the betterment of ourselves and the world around us.
See you next year, UW Tacoma students. I’ll be experiencing 2017 right alongside you, with the same resolution I give myself every year: do better.