The year I turned 30, I lost my grandmother.
I loved her beyond measure, one of few things I held sacred in a life lived profane.
There are many ways to take her passing into context, but only one manner in which I feel free to express on this platform. As the indulgences and follies of my adult years crash into their zenith, I lost the woman who taught me, by example, the value of dignity, compassion, of imagination and adventure, and of kindness. The love I received from her was palpable when unspoken, boundless when unconditional.
In the days that followed her death, I found myself having to subscribe between one of two notions: is my life bound by fate and corrected in accordance to predestination, or do I wield free will? Are the events of 2016 mere coincidence and happenstance?
Beyond these introspective considerations, 2016 can be argued to have been a qualitatively and quantitatively bad year to the larger populace.
We mourn the victims of the Hamam Al-Alil massacre – over 300 non-combatants murdered by ISIS for refusing to join them. We mourn the victims of the Kayseri and Istanbul bombings – innocent bystanders to a conflict fuelled by apathy and socio-politico-cultural alienation. We mourn the victims of the Bastille Day attacks at Nice – a reminder that the weaponed conflicts of today do not feature the use of traditional weaponry. We mourn the fact that the victims spoken of here are a minute percentage of the total loss of innocent lives through terror in 2016 alone.
Those more attuned to Western media will no doubt lament the loss of popular luminaries such as, among others, Alan Rickman, David Bowie and Carrie Fisher.
2016 also marks the end of the Obama administration – one that has invigorated America and – to a smaller extent – the world, espousing tolerance and openness, and brought to light our shared humanity.
I want to believe that there is a correlation between these factors. It would tell me that there is an interconnectedness to all things – even if it only tells me that 2016 marks rock bottom. That way, I know that the only direction to go from here is up, and on.
With 2017 comes renewed hope, an invitation to take flight. The opportunities at hand for the year ahead are pretty exciting, but I am learning, day by day, to approach each new moment of 2017 with respect for the thoughts and ideas of others, with kindness and tolerance, and with compassion towards those around me.
With 2017 comes the chance for a restart.