The best book that I’ve never read opens with the following lines:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”
It’s an opening, yes, but it feels like a fitting way to close what has been, in the words of the renown artist known as 2008 Katy Perry, “a hot and cold, yes and no, in and out, up and down” year.
2016 has been a year of personal bests and global worsts. All time highs and sub-zero lows. Good guys seem to get better, and bad guys seem to get worse. Love, when found, is sweet and overwhelmingly beautiful. Hatred is strong and biting. It was a year of Orlandos and Aleppos. A year of La La Lands and Finding Dorys. A year that gave us more Star Wars and Harry Potter, but took away Alan Rickman and Carrie Fisher. A gut-wrenching, messy heartache that at its best taught us that we as humanity are still capable of curing disease, welcoming people who are different, winning gold medals for physical strength, saving endangered species (except Harambe, RIP), or making people smile with nothing more than a Chewbacca mask and a Facebook live video feed; and at its worst, it taught us that anger and hate can pull space shuttles back to Earth, redraw lines between color and gender, and erase unprecedented steps for mankind.
I don’t need to speak for the world too much, but looking back at 2016, it’s apparent that something was different. Grittier. Harder.
2016, for me, has been a year of extreme triumph and extreme low. I taught myself how to wax my own eyebrows, for example, thus sparing me a $10 trip to the hair salon — win. I have also waxed 50% of my eyebrows off two times as a result (most of my eyebrows are dot-to-dots right now, and I’d ask that you please refrain from mentioning it in public). I marched in a political protest for something I was passionate about, which was both thrilling and out of character and also terrifying. I also unintentionally severed a good number of friendships that I didn’t realize were dependent upon shared politics. I went on my first Tinder date. I learned that having to prepare a Relief Society lesson as an excuse to go home early will result in Tinder dates never calling you again. I finished my second 100-mile bicycle ride. I cried half the time because it felt like my legs were pulling an Anakin on Mustafar and burning off. I was introduced to Stranger Things. Barb died. The election did not go the way I wanted it to. The election did not go the way I wanted it to. I planned a national park trip and all of my plans were changed when my friends copped out and a fire put us two hours behind schedule. I got to spend the most precious time I’ve ever spent with my dad at Yellowstone on the National Park Service’s 100th birthday and we got to share the Book of Mormon with a couple from our campsite because we were so behind schedule — I also got a picture taken with a park ranger who I forced to wear a party hat and party whistle, and it was INCREDIBLE. I lost almost all of my snowboarding buddies. Snowboarding is now my recharge time and I don’t suck. My car broke down in Yosemite National Park and I cried like a baby. My friends and I were rescued by angels who taught us how to appreciate good Punjabi music and be optimistic, no matter our circumstances. I no longer have the ability to sleep in on Saturday mornings, but I started working at the temple, which is more of a blessing in my life than I can express. I moved out and learned that I can make a mean strawberry/avocado Panini. I also learned moving makes many a friend a stranger, and I don’t know why. My job has given me thicker skin and the ability to take things I may not have been able to before. The mental stress of my job and life has gotten in the way of my writing and I feel like I’m starting all over with this blogging thing. I’ve felt deep connections with good, good friends as they’ve shared their heartache and trials. I’ve felt lonelier than I ever have in my entire life. I don’t feel successful most of the time. I have to rediscover what I love doing every day. I’m not where I want to be yet.
But life is good.
2016 was the best of times and the worst of times. Here’s to hoping 2017 will be consistently best.