There are times when I envy our cats. They live in a world where politics, religion and work don’t matter at all. Instead, they get to hang out and play with interesting toys and watch the world go by from a safe, warm place. They’ve gone through some changes in their lives, most of which we will never know about. But they’re doing okay now.
Companion animals really are wonderful. Desty, our first adopted cat, is only around 5½ years old. She is calm; curious about the world around her and social in a noticeably polite way. She is responsive when we call for her and will even occasionally plays fetch with a rattle ball that once had blue feathers on it.
We adopted Pippin a few weeks ago. After a trip to the vet we learned he’s actually only around 9 months old as opposed to being over a year as we were told. He is a giant kitten who loves food and who hogs all of the toys. He’s clumsy, rather oblivious in an innocent way, and has proven to be difficult to train to not hop up on the counter or into the kitchen sink. To be honest, he likes food more than any other cat I’ve encountered. This includes people food, which we do not allow him to eat despite his best efforts. And he tries really hard.
Desty tolerates him well enough, though they are definitely still learning to get along. She has taken his entrance into our lives with some grace, and obviously some resistance, but is learning to adapt to this chaotic newcomer.
I feel I should look toward 2018 the way Desty views Pippin – with tolerance and eventual acceptance. But seeing how this past year has turned out has given us all some reason to be nervous for what is to come.
There is one specific phrase that has not left my mind since hearing it early on in 2017.
“I’m doing okay over here.”
This is a phrase that a kid my sister’s friend used to nanny for would say when she was doing something that she was not 100 percent sure of, or when dealing with a task that requires assistance but that she was determined to deal with alone. Apparently this kid would go into another room and if she was quiet for too long my sister’s friend would ask what she was up to.
“I’m doing okay over here” would be the response, only to be discovered doing something she clearly should not have been doing or that she obviously needed help with.
It quickly evolved into a phrase my family would say during chaotic or stressful moments. We said it when my sister, a professional ballet dancer, broke her toe in the first week of January. We said it when my mom struggled with leaving a job she had held for years to try something new. We said it a lot this year, always ironically, but deep down holding onto the bit of implied truth that, yeah, eventually this will pass and it will be okay over here again.
At one point during the summer I scribbled the phrase onto a sticky note and stuck it in my drawer at work during a very hectic few months. It forced me to stop and think realistically and put some perspective in place. Some days when I saw it it didn’t really apply. Some days it made me laugh to myself in the mildly hysterical kind of way that I sometimes feel when seeing the current state of affairs in the country.
Am I doing okay over here? Overall, yeah. I’m just one person that lives in a country run by old white dudes with a lot of backwards viewpoints. So are we, as a country, doing okay over here? Well…
It’s one thing to deal with personal issues but also to be able to think that, hey, in the overarching scheme of things, life will go on in the old USA. It’s another thing to feel a giant shift in the way the country is moving. It casts a shadow of uncertainty because there will always be a ripple effect on the decisions that are made.
The weeks pass and the months pass and every time I check in on Twitter or Reddit or pretty much any social media the headline trend has nearly always been negative or, at the very least, depressing (remember Net Neutrality? Me too.) It is a vast understatement to say that a lot has happened in the past 12 months, but as each year passes I find it is difficult not to get annoyed that people seem to only focus on personal resolutions and changes in the new year instead of taking in a larger perspective.
There are many stereotypical things that occur around this season leading into January and nearly all of them get under my skin. We are blasted by ads to make big personal resolutions, most of which involve physical changes. Gym membership levels spike, and people strive to eat differently until it no longer becomes convenient and by mid-March find themselves going ham on a 10 piece McNugget deal.
When I worked in retail we shifted the entire fitness clothing department to the front of the store so that people would see the new sports bras and multicolored leggings for their various athletic endeavors. By late February we would move everything back to make room for spring clothes. The hype always dies down.
So. Who is ready for their New Year’s Resolutions? Who is ready to “get fit” or eat less Domino’s Pizza? I am certainly not knocking these goals nor do I mean to discredit people who are striving to make better personal life choices. But it’s also not like the year changing is a big old reset button either. The things that happened in prior years still apply, and unfortunately people will still remember the things we wish could be forgotten. Based on this, perhaps aside from thinking of changes on personal levels, we can attempt to look at a broader perspective and think about making a few goals that will have a further reaching impact.
Is it really so hard to be involved? Is it so difficult to make or join in on something creative or meaningful that will bring some happiness to other people’s lives?
At this point in December people reflect on the highs and lows of the year and make broad statements about it, like it’s the unedited conclusion of an essay. How on earth do you sum up an entire year’s worth of moments into a few sentences? Here are my thoughts.
The year 2017 has been wild and unpredictable. But we are doing okay over here. There will always be people who have like-minded views who will join together and let those who need it most know that they are heard, and I aim to be a part of that group. I just hope that group can dig in and be as stubborn as necessary in the coming years.
This is said with some hesitation and I can’t speak for every individual person, but from a young, liberal perspective I’ve watched people rise up and come together in ways I have not witnessed before. People who were once quiet about controversial topics are speaking up and planning events, raising awareness for causes, and making bold statements.
Am I biased? Heck yeah. I follow a pretty dang liberal bunch of people on various forms of social medias and it’s super easy to see the divide that’s occurred in the past two years. But here we are on the edge of a new year and it’s not really a valid excuse to float along and not be involved in current news anymore.
The year 2018 will be an interesting one. We have a lot to accomplish and it’s possible that maybe, just maybe, my generation will be able to make a difference. It’s kind of a solidarity sort of mindset, and it’s cautiously optimistic at best. But optimism is better than nothing. Happy New Year, fam. We’re doing okay over here.
Renee Brown is a freelance writer living in Southern Minnesota who really does have more interests than being a member of her generation, but you’d have to ask her about that. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @JinjahSnap.
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