Let me say this first: the marking of days, months, and years is no more or less arbitrary than marking distance. The road is the road, and the milestones along it do not change it; it is how we measure the distance we’ve covered in our journey, and what lays ahead for us. How we mark time is very similar, save for the fact that we mere mortals have no clue as to how far we have to go. But in terms of where we’ve been, it helps to have a scale along which we can track our changes, our low points, and our triumphs.

So it is with the year a good number of us call “2016”.

During this time we’ve marked, there’s been so much loss, so much hardship, so much disappointment. I’ve dealt with this on a deeply personal level, as well as the general one. It takes time to process grief, and to transition from reflection to actualization, especially in a society that is focused more on monetary profit and material gain than personal growth or societal advancement. The expectation is that we will live to work, rather than working to live, and that we will kowtow to the whims of others, instead of taking care of our Selves.

The importance of owning our mistakes & drawbacks, and using negative events & energy as fuel for moving forward, has been brought home to me in a very real, visceral way in the past year. I’ve heard years like this one past referred to as ‘burning years’. As a Fire sign and a person feeling a draw towards the transformative potential of matter as well as energy, I’ve taken this interpretation to heart. When a final metaphorical nail was driven into a past to which I was clinging, I made the conscious decision that this time, this time, I would not succumb to my head weasels and become drawn into a miasma of despair from which I might not be able to save myself.

I did not lay in my coffin to decompose. I set that motherfucker on fire.

The inferno of the past is lighting the way to the future. It’s a path I’m walking as confidently and consciously as I can.

I’m so much more aware of my surroundings, those around me, the impact I have on people. I’m regaining things I’ve lost and sowing seeds for success in soil I’d let gone to seed. And I wouldn’t be capable if I hadn’t had so much twisted and broken that I had to burn away.

Between that, and the character of those around me being truly revealed, in a way, I’m grateful for all that happened.

I look to the luminary examples of the musicians, actors, and thinkers we lost. I admonish myself to be and do as well as they would expect, to live up to their example, and perhaps, to exceed them.

I’m curious to see what I will do, and what fruit will bear, in 2017.

On Fridays I write 500 words.