One holiday tradition at my house is watching Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, a Jim Henson Muppets TV special from 1978 based on the book by Russell and Lillian Hoban. Right now, I’m thinking of the scene near the end where Ma Otter and her son Emmet are walking home late at night after the tragedy that cost them their most valuable possessions and any hope of a happy Christmas. Ma says “I guess I should feel pretty bad, but the funny thing is that I don’t. I feel pretty good.”
2014 was a lousy time for a lot of us. I can’t recall another year when so many of my friends and loved ones struggled through serious, life threatening illnesses. Cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s. The social world wasn’t much healthier. My state and nation buckled under their load of violence and injustice.
Still, here we are on New Years Eve, ten days out from the Winter Solstice, and the light is returning to the world. Like Ma Otter, I’m feeling pretty good.
Maybe we needed some adversity to bring out the best in us, or maybe I’m just starting to pay attention, but this long and weary year offered a lot of kindness. I’ve been overwhelmed by countless acts of basic human goodness from hospital staff, caregivers, emergency workers, cab drivers, casual acquaintances, and total strangers. If the world does come unglued, maybe we’ll take care of each other after all.
My biggest inspiration of 2014 came from the community of people working in psychedelic research. I spent a good chunk of the year in the company of the scientists, MDs, and psychologists who do the research and the organizers, business people, philanthropists, and volunteers who support the work. I’ve never seen another project or institution maintain such high standards of professional quality. It’s humbling.
When you have an example like that in front of you, what else can you do but try to live up to it? That’s my goal for the new year.
I hope your new year brings the same care and kindness that inspired me in the last twelve months. Keep in touch and I’ll see you in 2015.