Friday, December 31, 2010

The End: The Beginning

Didn't we just do this? Wasn't New Year's last month?

I've thought so much about what I wrote last year, it still seems fresh in my mind. A year ago, huh? Doesn't seem possible.

Do you look back on the previous year and fill out a mental scorecard, tally up the results and draw a conclusion? Do you let the most impactful events of the year determine the score? Or do you judge a year based on vague impressions about what you think happened, ignoring those things (good or bad) that don't fit into that preconception?

When I was younger, I defaulted to "yeah, last year sucked." Now I default to, "it was a pretty good year." Most of the things I used to judge the years of my youth matter little now. The things I use to judge the years now were unimaginable in my youth. In both cases, I've tended to ignore the things that didn't fit into my preconceptions.

Like with most history, most snap judgments prove to be erroneous. These judgments are made too soon after the history was made. There isn't enough time to fully digest what's happened and/or how they will shape the future. The emotions surrounding the events are too strong or we conveniently forget the less pleasant things. I'm pretty good at the latter.

This year, I completed my goal of reading at least one biography of every president. It was an enlightening experience. Historians are a lot like we are. They make their judgments either on incomplete data or by focusing on the things that fit their preconceptions.

I found that my preconceptions about most presidents ignored plenty of things. The great presidents had their faults. The worst had their strengths. I no longer accept the greatness of some - Jefferson, Jackson and Wilson - without reservation. I no longer ignore the lessor known - Polk, McKinley, and Coolidge - now that I understand the contributions they've made. Like years, there are those who were great (Lincoln, FDR and Washington) and those who were lousy (A. Johnson, Pierce and Buchanan) but the great had their faults and the lousy ones had strengths.

Similarly, the years in my life I've judged to be great weren't without challenges and setbacks and the years in my life I've judge to have sucked weren't without blessings and accomplishments. Sometimes the things that sucked look like blessings when seen through a longer lens of time.

This is a blog about dealing with my son's autism. Something I can judge as a setback or a blessing. At first, it was a debilitating setback. But it was always a blessing because Robbie's a blessing, no matter how hard things have been. I don't need a longer lens to see that now, but I did at first. My lack of blogging about the topic is an indication of how well things have gone. I haven't been inspired to share the "normal", everyday of it all because, well, it's been normal. I'm going to judge that as a very good part of the year.

There is one area I filled out a scorecard and tallied up the results.

Around the end of March, I finally found the strength to attack my weight problem. Nine months and fifty-five pounds later, I'm pretty happy with the results.

Based on this alone, I'm prepared to judge 2010 as a great year - ignoring the blessings and setbacks that occurred along the way.

I'm not going to make any predictions or resolutions for 2011, though I'm hoping there's a book deal in my near future. All I can do is set goals and pursue them to the best of my ability. Twelve months from now, I'll determine whether or not a great or bad year was had. I may or may not be accurate about that.

Time will tell.

Happy New Year, everyone.

1 comment:

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