We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.—Barbara de Angelis
Welcome to the real 2016. January 1 doesn’t count; it’s that in-between days when people my age and older worry about writing the wrong year on checks while our children and grandchildren stand by our sides asking, “What’s a check?” January 1 is for parades and football and corned beef if you’re in the Midwest, hog jowl or fat back if you’re in the South. January 1 isn’t a real day.
Today, however, is quite real. Bills are due, including rent in many cases. You may have to go to work. Even if you have today off, since it’s Saturday, there are still things to do such as taking down the damn Christmas tree and tossing a tangled jumble of lights into the closet. Today, the holidays are officially over and the world is obligated to get back to the hectic rat race it left back in November. What will we do, however shall we survive? Fortunately, I have some solutions.
I am amazed that, every year, people are severely crippled or die due to exposure. I’m not necessarily talking about homeless people, either, though that’s definitely a problem. People who know better and have sufficient means to protect themselves seem to hit January and think that Spring must be right around the corner. Wrong. Especially this year. We’ve got at least three months of cold starting us out here and the rest of the year is really going to suck if you lose extremities because you didn’t take care of yourself. Gloves. Hats. Heavy coats. They’re not just for the holidays, folks. Wear them. Surviving the year starts with staying alive.
Avoid politics (and politicians) whenever possible.
This is a presidential election year and all indications point toward this being one of the most ridiculously stupid campaigns ever. This year’s politicians are totally incapable of telling the truth about anything. Some of them can’t even get their own names correct, “Ted.” The only means of survival is to shut them down, turn them off, and vote for the one least likely to behave like a complete asshole when they reach office. Even worse, though, are people who ardently, feverishly, support a candidate. They will fill your Facebook timeline with some of the most ridiculous article links ever conceived. Unfollow them. Block them if they start getting too pushy. Pay no attention to the slime oozing behind the curtain. Turn them off. Surviving doesn’t mean surrendering your dignity.
Fight terror and violence by loving everyone.
After rampant wandering politicians, the biggest threat the United States faces this year is domestic violence and terrorism. The are some very stupid people out there who mistakenly believe that hate is justified by their religion and violence of some form is an acceptable answer. Nothing could possibly be more wrong. In response to these very misguided individuals, we can have only one response: love everyone. We really shouldn’t be threatened with violence or terrorism to do this, but if we want to shut down our biggest threats to national and personal security, loving each other is our only choice. That means loving each other regardless of religious affiliation, or race, or sexual orientation, or marital status, or whether they watch Fox News. The Beatles gave us the answer long ago: All you need is love.
Pay cash, save as much as possible.
We’ve been monitoring comments by different economists all year and, while they rarely agree on anything, it seems rather certain that we’re heading toward yet another global recession. Blame China. No, it’s not all their fault, but they make a much-too-obvious scapegoat. This is not the year to be running up a lot of unnecessary debt, especially not high-interest credit card debt, which is never a good idea in the first place. This year, when Samuel L. Jackson asks, “What’s in your wallet?” the answer needs to be, “Cash.” With a recession looming, I wouldn’t even trust banks enough to use a debit card. Sure, it’s not a convenient approach by any means, but it could save your ass when the next recession hits. Surviving means save as much as you can, keep as much as you can out of the hands of big banks.
Take more pictures: hire a professional.
For all the talk about Instagram and other online photo sharing applications, the number of good photographs, the ones worth handing down and saving for future generations, are declining. Why? Because you’re not paying for them. You’re taking lousy selfies instead of hiring a professional and what you’re getting in return is just digital trash. 98% of the photographs taken with cell phones are not worth preserving. Sure, our services are not inexpensive, but the value of a professional photograph grows with time, unlike the garbage on your phone that can disappear in an instant if someone spills a glass of water. Having professional, printed photographs are the best way to preserve your memories.
I can’t promise anyone a good year. There are a lot of obstacles that, quite honestly, have me a bit frightened. We cannot see the future, but we can prepare for the most obvious possibilities. Be safe out there, kids. Love each other. Spend wisely. Book your photo session now. Surviving 2016 doesn’t need to be difficult; let’s do this together!