December 31st, 2019

Pumpkinhead

Farewell to the Decade

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

Twenty Twenty. 24 hours to go, but even less than that now, and this would have been a good decade to be sedated – at least for the tail end.

It started pretty well. From the start of 2010 through the end of 2012, there were, to my surprise as much as anything, 414 separate BUMD posts and updates. From 2013 onward, there have been 83 posts in the remainder of this decade, including this one. I can no longer imagine having the time, much less the energy, to write that much. I would love to vow to get back on that track and get back to writing more, but that would look too much like a campaign promise – sounds great, sells well, followup unlikely. The only difference is that I would, in fact, mean it. Honest!

Turning our thoughts to the end of the year looks better. Decades are big, complicated things to wrap up and review; that’s why we invented years in the first place – they’re like little bite sized chunks of a decade that we can tear off with our teeth, and if ever there was a year that needed to be ripped out with our teeth, man, 2019 might be the one.

That said, it wasn’t all bad. I posted in 2017 a short guide for the next 4 years, and those 4 years are coming due. We need to continue to persevere, to persist, and to punch above our weight class in speaking truth not just to power but to ignorance, in speaking acceptance to intolerance, in speaking the language of love to the rhetoric of hate.

Those are good words – I’m good at that. (Go read them again, if you like; I’ll wait. Feel free to use them.) But action is harder. I haven’t done a lot, personally, to foster those conversations – I haven’t marched, I haven’t protested, I haven’t even learned to knit pussy hats. I have noticed some good examples, though, outside of politics. There are a few things – a few people, really – that just make the world a smaller, kinder, and perhaps more hopeful place.

One of them is a friend we call Auntie Jenny. She started a Facebook group dedicated to living with mindful intention, to setting small, attainable goals, and to generally being there for people. It’s grown to more than 1500 people and has turned into a community of devotees who mostly try to channel their inner Mr. Rogers – posting their triumphs and tragedies, offering advice when asked and consolations, commiserations, or congratulations when not. Imagine! Complete strangers posting intimate details about their lives to the Internet and receiving validation and support. Weird, right? It makes me happy.

Another person who makes me happy is one I’ve written about before:
Pita Taufatofua, the well-oiled Tongan. If he qualifies for Tokyo this coming July, he will be one of only 15 people to have participated in 3 Olympics in a row, and possibly the only one to do so in 3 different sports. He seems by all accounts to be a terrifically good-natured person, dedicating his life to showing the world what a human can accomplish if they really put their somewhat crazy mind to it. (Yes, it helps that he’s impossibly good looking.) Like Auntie Jenny, I think he sets an example of the greatness of the human spirit. I just sent him a few dollars to help keep him in his kayak; you can help here if you’re inclined – or even if you just like looking at oiled up muscles on the big screen!

You don’t always see words like “nice” next to words like “indomitable,” but there you have it: These are nice people who, with indomitable wills, are doing their own small part to make the world a little bit nicer, maybe a little weirder, and setting an example from which I take some hope – we CAN make a difference. We can create small communities of considerate people, which can create bigger communities and eventually, nations. Eventually, worlds.

Which brings me to the last part of 2019. The Queen Mother of Pink left us this February, and this will be my first New Year’s Eve year in something like 20 years that I don’t call her at the stroke of midnight, yell “Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit,” and hang up. Well, I tried to hang up, but half the time she’d say it first because she always knew it was me. She’d remind me that it was her dad’s birthday, and she’d stay up every year to toast him and wish him a happy birthday. I’d give her an increasingly brief update on the kids and that would be that. It was harder as she got deafer, but she always knew it was me, and yelled all the right things even when I was pretty sure she couldn’t hear me in the first place. Last year, she called me around 10pm my time and said, “Rabbit rabbit rabbit, I’m more than a hundred years old and I’m going to bed!”

She was a nice person with an indomitable will, and she left the world a little bit nicer, a little goofier, and she set an example from which I take some hope.

In 2020, I will hope to see the good in people who have good in them. I will hope to notice early and reasonably avoid those people (and they’re out there) who don’t. I can’t be Greta Thunberg, or Pita, or even Auntie Jenny, but I can be myself. I can remember to think before I speak and – with intention – I can speak truth to ignorance, speak acceptance to intolerance, and speak the language of love to the rhetoric of hate. And so can you.

Happy New Year to you all!

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