2016 was a bittersweet year for most of us. We said goodbye to what seemed like an entire generation. It was the year the performers and entertainers we grew up with crossed the bar to another existence, leaving us stunned and faced with the reality of our own immortality. There was a tumultuous upheaval in the political world, leaving many questioning the future – and then there was usual stuff – another round of forest fires, earthquakes, floods, and riots. Some of these things touched us personally; some of these things were so remote we were alienated by distance and disinterest. The pleasant stories and the victories seemed to disappear in the fog of sadness that greeted most of our days. It seemed like 2016 was doomed to fall into memory as the “year that shouldn’t have been”.
I can understand that view. 2016 was the year I endured more struggles with RA, suffering flares that lasted longer than usual, taking me back several steps, and forcing me to start again with a new treatment plan. It was the year my disease reactivated itself, thriving in dark rainy days, filling my joints with inflammation and pressure like a dense fog sweeping in from the ocean and swallowing up the harbour lights. I repeatedly fell off the exercise wagon and put some projects on hold as I fought my way through turbulent days. I was thoroughly reminded not to get too overconfident about my achievements. 2016 appeared in every way of being marked a year of heartbreak, bleakness and disappointment.
But all was not lost – 2016 also brought many memorable moments: we watched people stand together to protect their land from big business; we saw small acts of kindness, like a man risking his life by getting out of his car on a high-speed highway to rescue a kitten; we watched a rock star stand against cancer and travel across the country for one last show; recently I read about a man who walked into a school and paid off all overdue lunch balances – simply amazing. In my world, I found more time to focus on new projects, was part of an award-winning theatre production, did another successful in the fall, met new people, did my first advocacy talk at a local university and was given the gift of new life – the birth of my nephew. These things may sound like small potatoes in the giant pot we call life, but I enjoyed them every step of the way – with and without butter.
Life is not a straight road – it has curves, hills, valleys, and corners. It can bring dark clouds, but nature has shown us those clouds will dissipate and expose the sun. There will always be things we can’t control. I don’t spend too much time worrying about those things. I can’t know what’s around the next corner, but I can try to stay as healthy and strong as possible to face it. I live in the moment, focussing on those things I can control – whatever the future brings, those small pleasures and accomplishments are powerful enough to give me promise and confidence to move forward.
We are creeping up to the winter solstice and a new calendar year. I am counting down my last days of 2016 battling a very nasty cold but even so, there a still some days left to find those pleasurable moments before I turn the corner. A new year is a chance to begin again – to ponder fresh goals, re-evaluate our lives and work towards completing the things we started last year. I look forward to the ups and downs of another season. I am ready to meet the challenges and victories that will rise up to greet me, and turn another corner in a life with RA.
Wishing all a very happy and healthy holiday season, and a Happy New Year.