Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Shiny New Beginnings

The other night, my sister and I were discussing the Mayan Apocalypse that wasn't. Those silly Mayans undoubtedly are still laughing their butts off on their spaceship with their leader, Snooki, and commending themselves on the ultimate punk (take that, Ashton Kutcher).

In the interest of full disclosure, I might have been a tad disappointed as the hours ticked away on Dec. 21 with no Marvin the Martian cosmic catastrophe. While I realistically knew the world would not end (because Kirk Cameron had not deemed it so), I had kind of hoped I wouldn't have to fold laundry (a.k.a. put it back in the dryer for another spin) or wrap Christmas gifts (a.k.a. shove them in bags with wadded up tissue paper).

On the bright side, I was gifted another day to lament my chores. And another. And another.

Now here we are, at the cusp of a shiny new year. We have a reset button -- and another opportunity to get things right.

My sister and I think this is maybe what the Mayans intended all along. The close of 2012 was perhaps never intended to be viewed as an ending at all. Perhaps it was the Mayan way of welcoming us to a beginning.

Yes, I'm grossly optimistic. An old friend recently described my happiness level as "astounding." I don't know if that's entirely accurate, but my grandmother taught me to look for bright spots in this dark world, and I paid attention.

While horrible, nearly unspeakable things have happened, even recently, so have amazing things. I have heard of more acts of kindness lately than I ever have before.

Thousands are performing random acts of kindness in honor of those slain in Sandy Hook; others are "paying it forward" for Jayden Lamb, a little boy who lost his battle with cancer; and a friend of mind recently celebrated her birthday by performing 42 acts of gratitude, one for each of her years.

My cousin recently drove two hours with friends and family to an area children's hospital, where they delivered truckloads of toys to ailing kids. A former classmate quietly "adopted" not one, but two, entire families for Christmas. A colleague and her family spent their Christmas baking and buying for others in need.

I have witnessed neighbors, friends -- and even strangers -- lovingly embrace my mother in the wake of an illness.

The list goes on.

Yes, awful things probably will happen in 2013. Bad people will do bad things. Pessimists will complain, as usual. Catastrophes, both man and nature-made, will undoubtedly shake us. It is the nature of the world. It has always been this way.

Yet, I sense a profound change at foot. A cosmic shift. I can't explain it, and I promise I'm not some weird New Age wannabe (though you could reasonably argue the "weird" part); I just feel it. And no, I haven't  had any wine, so you can't blame that.

I have always had a fondness for stories that showcase the dichotomy of man: the dark and the light, in each of us. While I understand the dark is there, I always root for the light.

What if this is the era of light? What if we crack the shutters open, illuminating all those dark corners?

What if kindness triumphs, maybe not in one, giant, earth-shattering wave, but in thousands upon thousands of tiny ripples that swell and flow outward, until we all are touched in some way?

Wouldn't it be... wonderful?

Happy New Year. Happy New Beginning.