The Tabula Rasa of a New Year

Photo: Mike M. Ahlers, CNN

One year ends. A new one begins. One door closes. Another opens.

At every age, life is a tabula rasa; a clean slate, a blank page, a new adventure.

If you think about it, so it is everyday. 

I love listening to sports announcers declare an athlete is ‘day to day.’ So are we all, and in actuality, we are virtually minute-to-minute. This past year was almost my last year. But the sun shined again, and I found redemption and recovery. Now I have hope, health, and healing, but here is what 64 orbits around the sun have taught me: ‘make every moment count’ has to be your mantra. 

Life gives you the opportunity to laugh and love, capture special moments, share unforgettable experiences, and make lasting friends. It gives you the chance to forgive and forget, make up and move on, push forward yet kick back. As long as you can open your eyes, somewhere in this world there is beauty to see. 

Anyone born in the 20th century has seen meteoric growth in humankind. We have touched new horizons in architecture and the oceans, invention and medicine, science and the arts. Think of our species, barely six feet of bare hands, flesh and bones, but we have created a world where we have tamed everything but our insane hatred of each other. The material world we have mastered. Matters of the soul we have not.

Consequently, whether you go back thousands of years to the Persians and Troy, or to the bombings this week in Volgograd, the human species is still finding reasons to kill each other. It’s not good enough that nature deals its own blows with hurricanes and tsunamis, earthquakes and floods. We fuel our lives with uncontrolled religious passion and maniacal fanaticism. Whatever the hell it is, we find a way to kill each other. It is all so bizarre and unnecessary.

In America, we don’t even need a reason to kill each other anymore. Joggers are shot in the streets, shoppers in the mall, families in their homes, congressmen at their desks, and ten-year-old children in a schoolyard. There is no such thing as a safe community. It does not matter who you love or where you live. Some sick pervert is senselessly lurking around the corner with a gun.

Here is the thing then, which I have learned, from witnessing asinine wars in Vietnam to the senselessness that is now Afghanistan. Love who you want to love, live the way you want to live. Be who you are while you can be. Assert yourself and your identity as a human being while you are here and while you can. One day, sooner than you ever expect, you will be gone, and if you can’t even count on your roommate to take out the garbage, who the hell is going to carry on your legacy. 

Laws denying you equality have always been wrong. Finally, a new day is dawning. America is emerging from the shadows of LGBT discrimination. We are not far off from a day and place where there will be no Duck Hunters. Phil Robertson has no dynasty. He is a dinosaur. Some day we will even realize the Kardashians just don’t matter.

America? We are the people who made black people slaves and built into our Constitution that they were three fifths of a person. We are the country who did not give women the right to vote for over a hundred years. We poisoned coal miners, abused workers, and treated minorities as second-class citizens. We are the country that gave electro shock therapy to gays to ‘cure’ us. Maybe we are not quite as perfect as those high school textbooks you were forced to read.

So listen, as you enter this new cycle around the planet, appreciate what you have. Life is precious, and like the Pope, you should not judge others, just be yourself. That takes more than enough work. Be a good person. Be the person your dog thinks you are. 

Happy New Year.

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