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Death and Despair as 2016 Draws to a Close? No Thanks, I’ll Pass

Death and Despair as 2016 Draws to a Close? No Thanks, I’ll Pass

A lot of my friends are distraught over all of the celebrity deaths that have occurred during the closing days of 2016 – and throughout the year, for that matter. Maybe you’re one of them.

Many of my friends are posting on Facebook that they can’t wait for 2016 to be over – often in much more colorful language than that.

It does seem as though there have been more notable deaths than usual lately. But I suspect that the obsessive attention being paid to this topic is partially attributable to social media (especially Facebook) and the overabundance of 24-hour news/entertainment/gossip websites that are hungry for more clicks (read: revenue).

In other words, the deaths of famous and semi-famous people are being communicated farther and wider and with lightning speed, and many people are amplifying the message by re-posting, re-tweeting, and piling on their own wailing and gnashing of teeth. In the past, a death was mentioned in the local newspaper the next day or on the 6:00 news. Then, lacking a means to chime in and spread the news, we moved on to the next topic.

People may or may not be dying more these days, but it seems like they are because we are hearing a lot more about it in our hyper-connected world.

I refuse to buy into it. I refuse to allow myself to become depressed by participating in the echo chamber of death and despair over people I don’t even know.

People die. It’s part of life. It’s a shame when they die in their 50s or 60s, which is shorter than the average life expectancy these days – but some of these people did a lot of drugs and booze during their life. Or maybe they didn’t. But it doesn’t really matter – people die.

Apparently, I attach myself to celebrity lives a lot less than many people do. I have actually met very few celebrities in my life. Even for the few I’ve met, it was a brief inconsequential encounter. No famous person has ever been a significant part of my life. My niece’s best friend, whom I have met a few times, was a silver medalist on the U.S. Olympic women’s water polo team in 2000. A former co-worker’s uncle was Harvey Korman (I never met him). I have briefly chatted with several accomplished entertainers on Atlantis vacations. I have Maynard Ferguson’s autograph on my copy of his rare 10-CD box set. That’s about it.

I can count on no hands the number of celebrities who have had any significant impact on my life. Sure, I can appreciate that Carrie Fisher was a talented actress and a successful author. I have enjoyed her work, but I can’t say that the remainder of my life will suffer because there will never be another movie with her in it.

I was deeply saddened when my mother died. Carrie Fisher? Debbie Reynolds? George Michael? Not so much. In fact, very little at all.

As for wishing that 2016 would hurry up and end? No! As I type this, I have two days and seven hours to go, and I want to live every second of it. To wish that some future date would hurry up and arrive is to wish your life away.

As for dismissing 2016 as a shitty year – it wasn’t. It was a year of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Even if it was a shitty year – it was a year that I lived.

Sure, the election of Donald Trump was a shocking, heartbreaking travesty. (More on how I plan to deal with that in an upcoming post.) But I am not going to let that ruin my year – or the next four years.

Overall, 2016 was a very good year.

I performed 100 weddings, and earned a nice chunk of change in the process.

I played my trombone in four bands, and performed some excellent concerts. I don’t even attach that much importance to the performances; what’s more important is that I got to enjoy creating music with a lot of other human beings on a weekly basis. It’s a gift and a blessing.

My writing is now enjoyed by more people than ever before. During the second half of the year, my weekly articles on retirement lifestyle planning have been published on U.S. News and Yahoo Finance. They have appeared on lgbtSr.org and my own website, RetireFabulously.com. I have four times as many subscribers as I had at the beginning of the year. I have received feedback from people who tell me how much they value my work, and I have sold some books. I am making a difference (although not a lot of money).

Most important, it has been a year of good health. I am blessed with the love and support of my wonderful husband, Jeff, and our two dogs. We have many wonderful friends. We live comfortably. We lack for nothing significant.

At a much more basic level, I enjoyed being alive.

I’ll bet that if you stop to think about it, plenty of good things happened to you during 2016.

Are there things I hoped to accomplish but didn’t? Yes.

Are there times I felt too busy and over-burdened? Yes.

Are there things I want to improve upon for 2017? Yes.

But 2016 was a very good year. The election of Donald Trump and the deaths of Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, George Michael, and dozens of others cannot change that – because I choose not to let them. I won’t give those people or events that power over my life.

You shouldn’t either.

I don’t see any point to wallowing in negativity.

Carrie Fisher’s life is over. Mine isn’t. Yours isn’t.

Shit happens. I’m over it. Life is good.


© 2016 Dave Hughes. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Olivia Hotshot. Some rights reserved.

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