Ah, 2016!

Writing this first column of 2016, I’d like to begin by wishing everyone a happy New Year.

But I can’t.

I can’t wish a happy 2016 for ISIS–or for extremists of any stripe, anywhere–and I certainly can’t wish a happy year to those who for their own reasonsactively harm others. I can only wish they stop, or are stopped.

I look around, sometimes, and remain entirely unconvinced that we’re not all, in fact, in hell.

The world is a mess. It’s over-crowded. The climate seems to be changing in ways that will likely prove unsavory for us.

Pollution is rampant in all four of the classical elements of air, earth, water and fire.The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse–Conquest, War, Famine & Death–are having a field day.

There are too many infirmed, too many impoverished. Too many are refugees. There are too many lone wolves, apparently, and not enough vigilant people to adequately counteract them. There are too many bowl games, and not enough adequate football to justify the orgy of television revenue. There are too many Republican contenders for the presidency–in fact, there are too many Republicans.

And then there’s Donald Trump.

It’s as the Hopi would say: Koyaanisqatsi–“life out of balance.”

Contrast this with “Mother Nature,” which we tend to anthropomorphize as female, and nurturing, although–even If you’ve never been on safari–it should be abundantly clear that there is nothing whatsoever nurturing about Nature. We live, literally, in a dog-eat-dog world.

But as a system–as a biosphere, say–Nature is self-sustaining and perfect. Nature, at least unmolested by us, is balanced.

Still, it’s funny what we’ll do as a species to make sense of our surroundings, whether our faith is placed in science, astrology or religion.

It somehow seems fitting that, in Christianity at least, God is anthropomorphized as a father figure.

Can you imagine dear old Mom countenancing the kind of sacrifice required of Jesus? Or then leaving her kids in the lurch and skedaddling for going on two thousand years now?

Ah, 2016!

For the first time in half a dozen years I’m feeling semi-hopeful: This year, our magazine–Discover–will re-emerge. This year, our daughter–the last of five–will be a senior in high school.

Which means that, this year, for the first time in nearly 30 years, there is at long last a light at the end of the primary caregiving tunnel. I’ve been a father since I was three weeks into being 24 years old. This year, maybe, we’ll go somewhere spontaneously.

I’m not asking to ever be relieved of the worry or support–that would be akin to asking for the power of flight.

But I would like to see a movie, maybe, and not be distracted by what I fear might be the hi-jinks going on at home.

Or the logistics of dinner. The logistics of everything. The co-ordination of cars. Adjudicating arguments.

They say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”


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