If the events of 2012 haven't already left you utterly despondent, take heart. There's still time for our annual descent into the darkest depths of melancholy. While we grope in the darkness of short winter days, looking for some reason to feel hopeful, our emotional puppeteers are playing on our light-deprived vulnerabilities.
Tune to any television network during these December end-days and you'll be drawn into a maudlin retrospective of the year, set to music guaranteed to have you reaching for the Kleenex box before long. So many wars, killings, scandals, natural disasters, deaths of notable people, failures of our political system, international strife, personal tragedies. If your own losses and setbacks during the year haven't left you emotionally raw, perhaps dredging up these stories will do the trick.
If you're hoping for 2013 to provide you with a fresh start, you can probably kiss that sh*t goodbye. Washington's in a state of witless gridlock. Chances are, we're going off the fiscal cliff. Call it whatever you like: for many of us, it won't be pretty. Folks whose lives have been ripped apart by Superstorm Sandy or the tragedies at Sandy Hook or the factory closings won't be "back to normal" anytime soon. Winter weather's ravaging the country, and even the simple act of getting home from holiday festivities is an ordeal for many. Add in some seasonal flu, some power outages, some unemployment, and some global financial uncertainty, and there's more than enough angst for all of us.
Why, then, do the television networks and other media forces conspire to deepen our melancholy at a time of year when we're already feeling emotionally overwhelmed? Do they think we've forgotten all the dreadful events? That we yearn to relive them? That we were just to merry over the holidays and need to be brought back down to Earth? Or is this year-end programming designed to free up the writers by recycling the same old heartbreaking material?
Whatever the reason, I resent it. I feel manipulated. Someone's messin' with me and I'm in no mood for it.
Like a lobster that has just shed its shell in order to grow, I'm at the height of my vulnerability during these dark winter days, easy prey for the forces of despair. Still, growth is good and necessary, and maybe these periods of shell-less danger are a necessary year-end rite of passage. If we survive this emotionally risky period, we'll emerge in a few weeks with a bigger, tougher shell, ready to endure another year of bad news and dire predictions.
With all of the political, economic, and personal challenges ahead, we need to muster every bit of strength and optimism that we can. We need to work together, rather than allowing our melancholy to isolate us and cause us to abandon our efforts. So for those who want to prey on my sadness just because they can, I say: screw you. I'm turning off the television, tuning out the naysayers, and heading out the door, into the world where I can do some good.