slowly, quietly into a loud new year

By Kathryn Baxter
Woman Newspapers

It’s that time of year when we take stock of the past and set goals for the next.

Maybe you’ve spent the recent months thinking about how fortunate you are, and how you can be more in-the-moment and focus on your gratitude.

Maybe the holiday season is painful for you and you’ve been holding your breath waiting for it to end so you can come up for air.

Maybe you’re like me, and year by year it’s a varying mix of the two.  

This time, I’m saying goodbye to a chapter of my life and welcoming a new one. Come the new year, I’ll be working for a company I’ve admired for a long time, doing a job I’ve only just become comfortable believing I can do. All the past jobs, the many people I’ve worked with, the different parts of town, different buildings, different views, different dress codes - it all leads to now.

I’m excited and nervous and crossing all my fingers that I’m good enough for the future I’m trying to build for myself. I am also trying to slow down and savor these moments. There is a lot to enjoy. There is also a lot to endure.

I find myself trying to hurry past the shootings, the bombings, the malicious news stories and mean-spirited, opportunistic politicians. As I write this, I’m witnessing terror. Some of it is due to very real violence and some of it is due to in inflammatory images and quotes perpetuated in the media, Facebook and Twitter.

I have little control over those external things and I know for sure hurrying to pick a side isn’t the answer. In my heart I do not believe there really are two clear sides. Maybe there are no sides, or maybe there are a dozen sides.

Those articles and inflammatory images and so-called inspirational quotes, those mean and careless political tactics, those talking heads and leaders who care more about what makes the best sound bite? None of them are helping.

To balance the violence and rhetoric I witness, I donate to causes and organizations I believe in. I donate to political campaigns I hope will make a di erence in the world. I hug my loved ones, and I tell everyone I care for that I do. It won’t end wars. It won’t get weapons out of the hands of killers.

As I embark on the 2016 rollercoaster, I’m going to do what I can to make intentional choices and not just choose a side out of a false dichotomy, to listen attentively and to form my opinions slowly and deliberately.  

The year ahead is bound to be a loud one – but it is in the quiet that we may hope to  find our answers.