"Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy." Abraham Joshua Heschel
In a few days, 2016 will be over.
On social media, in casual conversation, people are cheering for this year to end. They liken 2016 to a houseguest who wore out his welcome months ago. When the hashtag #whenwill2016end is for real, it's easy to join the chorus.
I'm sure that Syrians- the ones who are still alive- think 2016 was a a nightmare without end. If your loved one was murdered at Pulse Nightclub or at another mass casualty attack, 2016 was a horror for you too. If you or a loved one ended up in the path of a drunk driver or a texting imbecile, you won't be sorry to turn the page on 2016.
People I know and love are fighting life-shattering illnesses, both physical and mental. They and their families have every reason to want to close the book on an excruciating year. To pin a tender hope on 2017 to bring something better.
However, if your life is basically intact, meaning that it was not shattered by bad health or terrible misfortune in 2016, and you are still wishing away the year, I have this to say.
Step back and get some perspective.
The first order of business for restoring perspective is to zero in on health. My parents always used to say, "If you have your health, you have everything." As I teenager, I rolled my eyes at their 'unsophisticated' thinking. When they both died young, I found out the hard way how right they had been. Being reasonably healthy and able-bodied is a gift we often take for granted. Until something goes wrong. Suddenly, the life you lived just last week seems downright enchanted now.
A dear friend, undergoing cancer treatment, drove this point home. After a recent treatment, she and her husband stopped at a coffee shop on their way home. My friend was weak as a kitten, barely able to navigate to the table. She looked around at the people bustling in and out. "They can all just come and go" she marveled. "They can just go about their day."
So I will say a silent thank you that for all 2016, every single day, I was able to come and go as I wished.
The other part of restoring perspective is to remember how finite and precious our time on this earth is. Each day that passes, each year that ends, is time that we will never get back.
Don't wish it away.
I am well aware of the frightening state of our world. The relentless bad news is depressing. We are exhausted from an ugly election year and unsure of what is ahead. The steady demise of one iconic celebrity after another adds to our sorrow and gloom.
The challenge for us is to take Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's words to heart:
"Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy."
We must care about what's happening in the world without letting it overtake us. To always remember what a miracle it is that we are here at all.
When you start wishing away the year, it's time to hit the mental reset button.
Let's use our precious gift of time to help where we can, to lighten the load for someone else. Then let's gratefully enjoy the blessing that is our life, the time that passes so quickly.
For me, the perfect means of restoring perspective was, literally, delivered this week. As I write this, I am holding my three-day old grandson. Earthly time has just begun for him. His story is on page one as 2016 comes to a close.
So far, it has been his best year ever.