Another Dangerous Retrospective – 2016 and the Day After That

It’s a day and a bit before 2016 comes to a close, a year many have mistakenly called “the worst EVER OMG” (I think it could actually have been one of the years in which this happened, or maybe this). Surprisingly, this will also be the second New Year’s that this blog has been alive to see! How’bout’that? Never would have thought my little travel companion would survive this long.

Unlike last year, however, I am not currently sitting in an outer-London hostel room, escaping the top-40 party going on downstairs and quietly feeling bad for myself. In fact, I’m actually at a makeshift standing desk in my family home, typing away with new glasses and a few cuts from a day spent walking through the South Australian scrub in shorts (as a complete side-note, Koalas actually sound terrifying when you’re alone in the thick of things). I may not be backpacking overseas at the moment, but I’m definitely trying to make the most of the life I have here.

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Are We Out of the Frying Pan Yet?

I really feel the need to defend 2016. I think it gets a rap much worse than it deserves. Sure, our idols might be dead and our enemies might be in power, but I think part of the problem is that social media algorithm culture has hit a new peak. It’s skyrocketed people into new heights of collective paranoia. Despite the unprecedented amount of beloved celebrity deaths (an honest RIP to all those legends lost), the beginning of the end of the American Empire as we know it and the rise of both the alt-right Trump Youth and Islamic extremism, the world isn’t ending just yet. That might be soon, but not right now at least. At least 2016 has that under its belt.

What is truly worrying though is the increasingly apparent signs of climate change that I’ve witnessed from my (now sultry and goddamn humid) home in Adelaide, Australia. We’ve experienced the wettest year I’ve ever known, floods, landslides, gale-force winds and then, suddenly, murdering heat, all coming and going faster than you can prepare your wardrobe. We haven’t really had seasons this year, just random drips and drabs of extremity, and that’s a scary thing.

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Flood damage in Morialta Park. Note, there should be a path there somewhere.
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“Summer” in Stirling

2016 should, if anything, be a rallying call to action. For the Left (and young people, artists, others everywhere) it is a time to abandon traditional strategies and take control of our lives and destinies. Nothing is going to get done anymore by complaining about it, the Almighty Algorithm has sucked that power away from us. 2017 is a year for novel approaches to science, art, industry and society that will propel us forward as a human race and protect the planet we live on. Even if globalisation is seeing its fair share of criticism, I’m sure we can all agree that we want to keep our homes out of the sea and animals in the wild. We’re all going to have to get through this together.

2016 has set us back a great deal because we’ve come to fear more than fight and expect the unexpected. Life is changing faster and faster for everyone and if we don’t start using our hope, positivity and imagination to its fullest power, 2017 will be another year of victory for our enemies, for greed, denial and the Man behind the CCTV camera. If you do believe in New Year’s Resolutions, make your 2017 resolution to fear not and fight on.

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Ups and Downs, Mostly Ups… Some Oops

At a more personal level, 2016 has been a year of great extremes. Boredom and stress have danced together in a perilous tango/tangle, threatening to drive me quite fucking mad.

I started my year, as I mentioned before, standing on a muddy hill in London, surrounded by strangers. A few days later, I boogied on over to Spain and then, after spending a golden two weeks in my second home, caught the frozen brown sludge in Riga, Latvia. My return home from the European excursion was tough at first, as well as a little bit exciting. The period of adjustment was less violent than I thought it would be, but still, I required a drink or two. Readjusting to the rather slow pace of Adelaide life (Adelaide Uni life, especially) took some time. In fact, I think I’m still adjusting in some ways. But, ya know, I’m getting there.

Aren’t we all “getting there?” Will we ever get there? Maybe, who knows?

The high point of my year, as I’m sure you’d all probably guess, was the couple of months over “winter time” in which Bonica was here, in my homeland. Even if nothing else happened except that, even if I’d been stuck in my room for 9 months, 2016 still wouldn’t have been the worst year ever, because I was with someone I really love for a tiny bit of it…

… And soon I’ll be back again. That’s something to look forward to in the next year, innit?

Ahmm, anyway. Before I get too mushy…

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It’s been an interesting year for my career and hobbies as well. I’ve found myself published via the South Australian Writers Centre’s Digital Writer in Residence program, working as a Freelance Writer and actually getting paid to do what I love (can you imagine that?).

I finally consolidated my years of miniature hobby efforts into a hobby blog and gallery (still under a bit of construction), took part in this year’s Inktober challenge (the results of which you can find on my Instagram) and, I think, stepped up my painting game quite a bit.

It’s been a struggle at times though, I won’t lie. As I’m sure many fellow creatives can relate to, there’s some sort of wall in the way of these efforts; a gelatinous, ghostly thing that stops you from working at full power, leans over your shoulder and spits at your efforts. I’ve not written as much for Electric Holy Road (32 posts compared to 50 last year), or, for shame!, gotten much further with the ponderous novel lying unedited and growing embarrassing fungi. I admit to my worst sin of the year, not being brave and bold enough to throw caution to the wind and beat procrastination once and for all. But you know how it goes… there’s always next year.

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There’s Always Next Year…

The truth is: that’s pretty bullshit. There’s always next year, of course, but only because one calendar year follows another. The sudden switch to 12:01, 1 Jan, 2017 isn’t going to solve our problems, stop beloved celebrities dying, halt fascists and extremists, make me start writing my novel again, it’s just going to be another day.

And like any other day, we have the possibility to change things. Every other minute, even, you could stop what you’re doing (note: not advisable if operating heavy machinery) and just change things for the better. There’s no sense making resolutions for New Year’s to feel guilty about not completing later.

I’m saying this as much for myself as anyone else reading, the time to make positive change is now. You CAN do it, even if the world seems bleak around you. Embrace the darkness, use your imagination and creativity to remould it into something that glitters. 2017 is going to be a great year because we’re waking up to these facts. We just have to do our part, for ourselves and everyone.

So here’s to the worst year that ever was. A toast for teaching us all to move forward and take a different approach. And here’s to notebooks and word processors. There’s still a hell of a lot more to write.

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