In a little over a week, 2016 will settle into the history books. Often, the holidays leave me feeling morose. This year is no exception, but my holiday doldrums are tinged with a large dose of fear and anger.

I decided to pause for a moment and look back on the year.

I must start by acknowledging that 2016 had more than its share of really terrible moments. From losing icons–like Prince, Alan Rickman, and Marni Nixon–to the results of the U.S. Presidential election and the horrifying images and news from Aleppo, Syria, it has often felt as though this was the year when humanity decided to go batshit crazy and destroy itself. In other words, the end feels all too near.

I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, the era that taught children about mutually assured destruction. Every kid I knew boasted about how they would survive in the post-nuclear apocalypse. From movies to music to books, my generation felt the specter of death and destruction looming over all our plans. The 1990s and 2000s made some of those fears recede, but now they’re back in full force.

While lots of years have ups and downs, 2016 has felt like it had more negatives than positives. While I’m normally a bit of a pessimist and often think about how to cope if the worst happens (see above as to why), I realized I need to look for some positives from this year.

One positive was my teaching experience. The students I had were an amazing group, willing to dig into some challenging current topics, discuss them, and write critically about them. It was a pleasure getting to know them, and their deep-seated sense that minority groups deserved fair and equal treatment was a light in the long, dark tunnel of the election. I can only hope that the 2020 election brings all of us closer to those Millennials’ visions of a fair and equitable society.

This year saw us purchase a home, and I joined the staff of the library in our new community. Getting to know some of our neighbors has been a boon, and I hope we can build strong connections to this community. I think we need that in the coming years.

Yes, I know this post isn’t as positive as I had hoped it would be. Even when I’m trying to find the roses, I still see the thorns. That’s pretty typical for me, and this year’s events have made it harder to see the good. It’s out there, and I’m trying to focus on it as much as I can.

But, I also know that the dark days could lead to some of my best work. I firmly believe that creative people are critically needed when the world’s events are darkest. I hope 2017 will see me push into new territory as a writer. I want to push past my reservations and dig deep into challenging stories. It’s one way I can resist the coming darkness.

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