Some years are better than others, some are worse. We know that, of course. Various people at various times will have eyed the clock as midnight approaches on the last day of a particular year with a profound longing for some sort of substantial transition to occur when the bells ring out – or with a sense of regret that a particularly good twelve months is coming to an end.
But I honestly can’t think of any previous point in my own lifetime (more than half a century, if you were wondering) where the beginning of a year has seemed so drenched in anxiety, anger, desperate wishful thinking, or despair.
Of course, it hasn’t helped my personal perspective that my Facebook feed this morning let me know that another old friend has died, far too young. Statistics do appear to show that a lot more famous people died this year than is usual, though this does reflect, to an extent, the number of people who became, and had remained, famous at a certain point in time and who have mostly reached the age at which death is likelier. As for non-celebrity exits, I have lost two good friends and a family member in 2016, and noted what seems like a higher-than-usual number of social media announcements from other friends of their own personal losses.
It isn’t just the deaths, though. The terrifying pushback against human rights for everyone who isn’t a straight, white man and the gleeful resurgence of the worst sort of ignorant bigots and bullies, fuelled by a celebration of aggressive stupidity and a cynical, calculated flood of media dishonesty is enough to make most of us fear for our friends, lovers, offspring and ourselves.
Yet there are glimmers of hope, little match-flares here and there. We have to have them. You’ll have a few of your own: a kind word from someone, a solution to a major problem, a personal achievement, a thoughtful gift, a moment when you made another person smile…
I’ve made some good new friends this year, and become closer friends with a few prior acquaintances. I’ve done some good work. I’ve seen the appearance and the steady rise of an erotica publishing company founded on ethical, inclusive, adventurous lines, along with encountering a surprising number of ‘respectable’ people happy to shout their opposition to the government’s latest attempts to censor sex-positivity and erotic expression. There have been ups, as well as downs.
Maybe the best summation of 2016, for me, lies in the two posts on this blog which were read by the largest numbers of people: one happy one, about making a porn film with a friend, and another one written in rage and fear and resolution.
Where will we go from here? Forwards, hopefully, onwards and upwards. And we will not be alone, not ever.