So This is the New Year
New Year’s Eve falls squarely under that old Socratic definition of insanity: repeating the same thing and expecting a different result. Most everyone will admit that it’s an overrated evening filled with high expectations that ultimately ends up being just like every other night, only a bit later and involving a lot more booze.
The idea of a New Year is an appealing one, that with a turn of a page and another sunrise we are somehow in a different paradigm than we were the day before. That’s never been more appealing to me than it is now. 2016 involved an existential freefall that began with a cancer diagnosis in the family and ended with starting antidepressants in the last week of the year. In between, I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle, went on an epic road trip in a new-to-me car that reignited my passion for all things automobile and fly fishing, made dozens of new friends who are now dear and regular parts of my life, and crashed on my bike the day after returning home from that trip. It’s been a series of blurry peaks and valleys, of agonizing drudgery and unforgettable highs.
Of course, tomorrow will not instantly change us. We will not wake up with hangovers and crock pots full of black eyed peas and feel suddenly settled or resolved, there will be no obvious solutions to our problems. No matter how resolute we may be, the date on the calendar is not an enabler. The direction of the winds does not influence us as much as we lazily believe. But this is good news—it means that we are not limited to a single day for our reinvention or trapped in a vicious calendrical cycle.
When I reflect on what I can remember of the last year, it is overwhelming. I contemplate how quickly I went from being at peak mental and physical acuity to a mentally then physically broken being with the brain of an unreliable narrator. I look at what I have to show for the time that has passed, and tally it up to lots of scars and a badass classic car. I stare at this half-full page of words and feel such a thick and depressive brain fog that I am both amazed at how much I’ve already written and discouraged by how much I have not.
Writing about feel-good, decisive moments and victories is both immensely popular and hugely fickle. So many of today’s best-selling books are those that convincingly rally people into helping themselves in some way or another, through trickery of word or inspiring anecdote. Then again, those inspirational words can ring a bit hollow to those who can’t muster a smile or a positive thought. Something I’m stricken by lately is the roller coaster ride of my internal monologue, the way I could likely write two or three accounts of the same series of events with entirely different morals and tones. I could be a defeated nihilistic observer whose strange disconnect between brain and body puts them in a perfect position to highlight the sardonic, cynical realities of quotidian life. I could be a celebrated survivor who triumphed over the life-altering experience of being hit by a car and doubled down on faith and optimism and vulnerable, real friendships. Maybe even some combination of the two, a lovable curmudgeon who sees the irony in everything yet chooses positivity. I’ve learned that the best encouragement often comes not from enthusiastic platitudes but from small examples of survival, from willing admission of fault or sorrow or pain or joy or excitement and the ensuing encouragement and relationships.
What’s been most impactful for me is the reception that laying myself bare for the sake of storytelling has received—comments on writing scattered across the internet, on Instagram posts from cyberfriends who live halfway across the globe, sincere expressions of solidarity or voluntary vulnerability from people over cups of coffee—all of this has been an incredible sampling of what happens when we decide to share at all. Whether your momentary mood is crushingly cynical or entirely optimistic, people want to hear it and can relate. Everyone who’s been around for any amount of time has experienced every emotion more often than you can imagine. And more people have struggled deeply than we know until someone breaks the ice first by candidly admitting the depths of their own despair.
In moments of clarity, I sincerely believe that this year and the struggles it’s thrown my way have been brought into my life for a reason. And recording that belief in writing is an important step; it freezes in time the feeling of relative calm and acceptance that sometimes seems so distant it may never be gripped again. That’s one of the chief duties of a writer: to reduce human experiences to essences that can be visited and revisited on command and to sacrifice their own privacy and best interest for a communal good. A pleasant side effect is that doing so is often the best thing for the self, too.
It’s astounding how often my most painful lows coincide with some random connection from a friend or stranger, or how often those coincidental conversations that occur when you see an acquaintance in a coffee shop contain some thoughtful substance that sticks with you. It’s easy to despair over the fact that only circumstance led to that moment, but in a way that’s the case no matter what. People pay far closer and more caring attention to us than we realize. I don’t know how to make the leap from thoughts and prayers to actionable solidarity, but it’s always a treat when someone does share that they’re thinking of you or is willing to ‘play ball’ when you offer up some depth and vulnerability beyond simply replying to “How are you?” with “I’m good!” And being thought about and prayed for counts for a lot more than we realize.
IS THIS THE NEW EMAIL YOU SAID YOU SENT ME?
I MEANT NEW EMAIL ADDRESS?
Well said/written; may your joy return fully one day.
Good perspective; know there are peaks and valleys and always offer a word of encouragement as you don’t know what’s really going on in people’s lives; makes you more grateful when you do! Keep the faith!
Well said. I have always admired and respected my friends who were willing to publicly open up about some sad event, failure or shortcoming. Life’s about the little moments most of the time, like little footholds on the way up to the mountain top.
Thanks John your articles continue to be a delightful and positive read. Good luck and Happy 2017!
I hope 2017 turns out to be a better and happier one for you. Bless you!
Hi,hello my name is Ressi-ann am currently in High School and I am new to blogging I like your stories and they are interesting .I was wondering if you can please help me with my blog ,I would be greatful for the help.Thank you
I love your perspective and willingness to share not only the triumphs but the disappointments as well. I feel that I will need to work on the same in the new year as well, while not allowing myself to give up or stop working to improve. Every day is a new day, and an opportunity to try again. You are an inspiration to me and, I’m sure, to many others. Thank you!
Beautifully written. May an incredible new joy come out of the dark times. They are always the most important and impactful times of growth if we let them be. Many blessings to you.
A little bit of concerted effort goes a long way to making us feel better – very true. Great post thanks for sharing.
, fell upon this story – & very glad I did – thanks for sharing
Thank you for sharing. Reading your blog resonates with me because I look at things the same way. Personally I tend to write about positivity because that is what I strive for. We will undoubtebly encounter emotions that don’t align well with a positive outlook. Those moments are just as important and relevant. I wouldn’t choose to go see a sad movie because I don’t like to feel sad. And feeling sad is a part of life, hard to avoid it.
‘more people have struggled deeply than we know until someone breaks the ice first by candidly admitting the depths of their own despair’. Amen. Thank you. Authenticity builds bonds.
I can completely relate to your rollercoaster 2016, despite me wishing you well for 2017 I guess the highs wouldn’t feel so good without the lows. depression has been an on-going struggle of mine for years. That is an amazing car by the way!
Very well said, John Montesi!
This is beautifully written!
Hi John I really enjoyed reading your blog we should never wait until one specific night of the year thinking some magic wand will appear to solve all our problems in one stroke of a clock hand each day we open our eyes is time to start anew and try to live again in hope ?
Nice Post. Thank You.
Well said, depression is not a topic you can speak about with most of your “friends”. Sharing these thoughts with your audience is so brave. I hope to be braver in this new year.
This is the best post I’ve read in a quite some time. I mostly skim blogs to get the gist of it because most lack the elements that trigger a true human connection. I read this word for word and I am so thankful that I did. It’s refreshing, raw yet refined and in a world full of “false reality” it is so real. Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to read more!
I really enjoyed reading your post. I look forward to reading more. We share a lot of the same thoughts.
love it. Would you mind checking out my blog too : )
Wow!! Let’s continue fighting and living! We are not new to the new year but what we can do with new year can be new!!
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Love your article, and your point of view.
I hope you can overpass your problem. Good or not, everything happens for a reason.
Love your writing style, and your viewpoint.
This is so true and beautifully written. A total pleasure to read 🙂
Loved this article! I am a very, very new blogger (as in started last week), and I have been battling with depression for quite some time. I want to share my experience with readers…but I’m still afraid to share. My internal monologue is quite the same of yours… some days everything I say to myself is negative, yet other days more optimistic. I will share my vulnerability eventually. It was a refreshing read!
Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. It’s inspiring. Here’s to more sharing and connection.
There’s is a lot of positivity in your words and the best thing I loved about the post was that we fail to realise that things will not suddenly change on the 1st of Jan. Change is a thorough process . And we have a year to make it happen. I really wish you to have a very happy and successful year ahead!!
The words were full of optimism & you have not failed to remind til we don’t try to bring or resolve a change in our core nothing is gonna happen even if new year has arrived it will seem as if future is repeated
As you say, nearly every emotion and feeling we sum up the courage to admit can be related to by some other out there. I suppose you can add my name to the list of other commenters on here. This past year has been extremely hard for me as well. Often, with the combined weight of a cancer diagnosis, depression, playing middleman to strained familial relationships, and dealing with suicidal loved ones, it’s all I can do to keep going. But I can – I do – and will continue to do because there is always joy to be found in the hard times. Even if it’s a comforting hug from a friend. Well said, John. Here’s to a New Year.
Wow amazing. Very well said and written. Happy new year
Happy New year
The book “Surviving Brain Injury: stories of strength and inspiration” may be a good read for you. I wrote a chapter in the book (23) and have read some personal accounts in there that might be interesting. I have a TBI from a car accident 19 years ago, and have quit my job to pursue writing and advocacy. I have also felt feelings of depression and stagnation, especially when re evaluating myself at the turn of the new year. You should check out my blog, http://tbitriumphs.com/2016/12/14/surviving-brain-injury-book-my-personal-story/
Please never forget how lucky you are to still be able to do some of the things that you can still do, like drive, ride a bike, WRITE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE.
Right now I’m writing from a coffeehouse with a friend, so I know that it’s very nice to connect and talk with other people who actually care. Look me up sometime, and here’s to a new year open to possibilities- Cheers!
This is a great piece of writing. I found myself agreeing to almost everything you have written as I did write a new year’s post with the same intention, with the same thoughts.
And thank you for answering the question: Why we write? I have always struggled to answer that question, I usually answered something like ‘It helps me’ but that always had a hollowed tone to it.
Wonderful post and happy new year
Great post and thanks for sharing
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Let 2017 be a new road to happiness.
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Respect to you for sharing some of your struggles openly it definitely is not easy to do especially if you suffer from depression, its inspirational and your not alone, stay strong and power to you!
Happy new year!
Follow for follow?
A very happy 2017. I loved your piece. Every bit of it. Please stop by and review what I am putting down as ‘Virtuista’ , from half a world away.
I love your positive approach. If life isn’t always easy, then it is also not always difficult.
I loved reading this.
Thank you for sharing! I am sorry to hear you had a rough year. I had one, too. It’s relieving to know I am not the only one who has been having a difficult time. You’re exactly right. Perspective and positivity are important. There is no reason to wait to make a change on a certain day or calendar date. The opportunity to make changes can occur now!
“Days don’t make us any different, but the things we decide to do with them certainly do”, now there’s the message I am pinning on the bulletin board above my desk to start on a new journey this year. I like the “realness” in your writing very much.
“Most everyone will admit that it’s an overrated evening filled with high expectations that ultimately ends up being just like every other night, only a bit later and involving a lot more booze.”
Okay, friend, try this (that sounds like the start of a Nigerian Prince-type scam. I’m not a Nigerian Prince or even a regular person pretending to be a Nigerian Prince, so just diregard that): next year, when it comes to the end of the year, hop on the internet and find a big, stately house somewhere. Somewhere with fireplaces and a big dining room and nooks and a garden big enough to go for bracing walks. Then invite the people you love most, load up on food and wine, and hole up there with board games and good books for the 29th, 30th and 31st. Ring in the new year in great company without worrying about going out somewhere and having to sell your right kidney to have a mediocre night out. I promise you will have a lovely time!
Also maybe take a break from the cycling? It really doesn’t sound like it agrees with you.
Hope 2017 brings great things for you and everyone here in this comment section!
Quinn, ha! I’m glad to hear you’re not a Nigerian Prince (though if you were, perhaps you could buy us both a couple of big stately houses). I daydream of doing exactly what you outlined so often.. it’s part of why I think about moving to Arkansas nearly 24/7. One of my ‘recovery’ bucket list items is to get a big, cozy house and fly all of my musician friends I’ve ever jammed with, from high school to college into adult life, into the house for a long weekend. I was just thinking about that yesterday, so this comment was uncanny and timely, in the way that only a Nigerian Prince could be. 🙂
Also, you inspired today’s post! Cheers for that, as well.
So well written and so very true. Your resolve is admirable.
Well written . Something that everyone can relate to
My granddaughter and great granddaughters at women’s march in Austin today. Two other dear women marched as well, one in Houston one in DC,
You can bet the ranch that I am one happy, proud grandmother/greatgrandmom and friend to all the world that marched today…….peace
I don’t know if this makes any sense to others but I felt a kind of ‘getting high’ feeling while I was reading this (I’m no pothead but I have tried alright?!) I can anly say it was an awesome reading. Writer PLEASE do not stop writing and posting.
I love ya but… you lack focus, try Canasta (a card game) and Pickleball (local rec center) – for the good life.
P.S. sweet ride.
I wish you happiness as the year continues. Blessings