There’s always a bit of pressure (perhaps self-imposed) as a year draws to a close, to look back on the previous 12 months and extract from them some profound lesson or heretofore undiscovered pearl of wisdom.
Or, at the very least, to offer a marginally unique take on the whole affair.
For me, thinking of something that hasn’t already been said in a dozen different ways – and likely more articulately than I ever could – is the eternal challenge.
The advent of Twitter – where every issue, incident or idea, once posted, is instantly dissected – has, of course, made it nearly impossible to produce a truly original thought on, well, anything. (There’s always someone who can type faster than you do).
Recent flooding in north Surrey after a water main broke, for example, quickly turned into a race to crack the first joke about the mayor getting his new canal. It took, quite literally, seconds for the first of many, many such quips to appear online.
The past few years have been (somewhat jokingly) referred to as dumpster fires – another great phrase that’s getting a bit threadbare from overuse. And 2019 didn’t do much to turn that tide on a global front.
Politically, it was such a tumultuous year in the U.S. and Britain that Canada’s biggest scandals – and even for an election year they were not minor ones – seemed a bit quaint by comparison.
In not entirely-unrelated news, Oxford English Dictionary chose “climate emergency” as its word(s) of the year for 2019. That notion, in and of itself, is a little depressing, but at the same time, combined with the fact that a teenage climate activist has been named Time maganize’s Person of the Year, it speaks to a growing awareness and wider acceptance that our current behaviour simply isn’t sustainable and that the stakes are, in fact, incredibly high.
Because of this, I’m choosing to hope that in 2020 these issues continue to draw and hold our focus and spur some meaningful action at every level – from more household trash being re-routed to the recycling bin or finding new life, to the far larger picture – reducing global dependence on fossil fuels.
Locally, we’ve had the Surrey police transition, ride hailing (or lack of it), dog poop, parking fees and tree removal to occupy people’s thoughts and fill our letters page from week to week.
It’s human nature, of course, to make the most noise about the things that make us unhappy, but there’s also a lot of good going on behind the scenes. It just tends to be done a little more quietly.
As arbitrary as it is, when you consider that it’s based on the planet’s position in the solar system – in itself an infinitesimal blip in an infinite universe – Jan. 1 offers us an opportunity to both reflect on the past and look ahead at the year to come. To give ourselves credit for how far we’ve come and reassess what we could be doing better. For those of us who find there are changes we’d like to make, it’s a perfect day to press the reset button. Just like the other 364.
Not a particularly unique observation, granted, but universal truths rarely are.
Brenda Anderson is editor of the Peace Arch News.