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1/6/17 7:11 pm

2016 is gone; 2017 is here

Like any other year, 2016 came and went. It didn’t linger beyond December 31st, thankfully. I was worried that it would, apparently, given the fact that I burst into tears while kissing Dawn at 12:00:02 am on January 1st.

Previously on gohlkusmaximus.com: 2011 was amazing. I met Dawn and we fell in love (basically instantaneously, but almost certainly before the octopus and the salmon landed on the table). In 2012 we moved in together, got engaged, and started planning our wedding. In 2013, we made our amazing wedding in Oakland and honeymoon in Kauai happen. 2014 was harder: Some family issues held over from the prior year, and Dawn and I each lost a co-worker, unexpectedly, to metastatic cancer and a heart attack (respectively). I had some nice work accomplishments, though. 2015 brought family illness and much related travel, work issues for Dawn (such as an office fly infestation) and for me (an entire department got laid off, including my best friend at work)—but also Dawn’s and my first cruise, to Alaska.

2016? Complicated. Family illness begat a death in the family and more travel. I got laid off in July, but I got a very enriching temporary gig from August through the election and beyond. The election campaign culminated in the most frightening presidential result in our lifetimes to date. Dawn realistically feared a Trump win early on, while my liberal optimism allowed me to be in less exhausting denial until Election Day. But we took two cruises that were mostly great (along the California coast, and to Hawaii). And at the end of the year we had a fun visit from family about which we had no ambivalence, refreshingly. Also, Dawn got new responsibilities at work that she sought (and the flies in her office were eradicated).

2017? Beyond the rightfully dreaded ascendance of Trump, I don’t know what it will bring. Personally, my part-time gig with The Next Generation in Oakland will end and result in a couple more nice portfolio pieces. I’ll find a new full-time occupation unless something goes dreadfully wrong. Our cats like me being home more often, for sure, though I have taken to working at the library to maximize my productivity.

The changing of the calendar provokes contemplation of the future but also the past. It is the marking of time that makes the passage of time most obvious. The more years we have, the better we have to be at subtraction.

There is a particular horror-inducing vision of the uncertainty of the future, and maybe more specifically death, that has been resident in my mind as long as I can remember. I will describe it to you now, though you might find it disturbing. It is merely an all-encompassing expanse of nothingness, devoid of all light, sound, and contact with others, in which I, being fully aware and conscious but not necessarily corporeal, am receding farther and farther away from everything else, everyone and everything I have ever known and loved.

I don’t think that’s an actual future I will experience. I hope not. I’ve generally always been able to repress that image and focus on reality and the present and doing my best. But life is finite and I have no clue what comes after it. Strangely enough, this very moment is finite, and what comes after it is quite frequently the next moment. I don’t really know everything about the moment I am currently in, much like any given moment in the past, or in the future. So it doesn’t really pay to be afraid of any of it, because I’m only going to know what I’m going to know, experience what I’m going to experience, control what I can control, which ain’t much and probably is less than I think.

This blog entry seems to be about overcoming fears: of the future and of the past, of failure and of success, of life and of death. Fears I have successfully conquered were my fear of falling in love with someone who would love me back, and relatedly my fear of being truly emotionally vulnerable (that is, admitting my human foibles to myself and others). I did this in part by working to understand (and/or convince myself) that it would be worth it. But I also did it by just jumping in and trying, and after surprisingly few hilarious and confusing failures, I found someone who was so right for me. So I guess those could inform how I approach my new life, the one that starts right this moment, the one that I have had all along, the one that I will have as long as it will have me.

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