From Pyre to Fireworks: A Message for the New Year

We’ve almost made it, friends! What to many of us is probably the worst year in memory – is almost over! We have every right to celebrate the symbolic “moving on” from this year, and we also have every right to be hopeful about the future. In fact, as Star Wars fans, I think it’s our duty to be hopeful about the future.

But there’s one caveat to remember: a number on a calendar doesn’t cause good things or bad things to happen. While we all want to look forward to 2021 as a sort of redemption for what we’ve been through this past year, we must remember that some (perhaps most) of the things that have frustrated us, angered us, and divided us will continue after midnight tonight.

That’s not a very hopeful message for the future, though, is it?

For me personally, and like many of you, 2020 has been filled with its share of disappointment, anger, and great personal loss. There has been grief, there has been illness, there has been depression and anxiety. In that respect, I would like nothing more than for this year to be over.

Here’s the catch. 2020 has also been filled with wonderful things!

This year, I’ve met so many new and wonderful people – people that have since become very dear friends. I’ve laughed this year. I’ve spent more time with my family. I’ve watched my daughter grow and become a wonderful little girl of whom I couldn’t be more proud. I’ve felt love from my family, friends, and community (both in a real life sense and online sense) in ways I’ve never felt before. I’ve had successes both personally and professionally. I’ve gained responsibilities in my work. Our podcast has grown more than I ever expected. We’ve met new family in the members of the Red 5 Network, family that stuck with us through thick and thin.

In that sense, 2020 was hardly a bad year. In fact, I’ll remember so many parts of this year as one of the best years of my life.

Which leaves us with this: your perspective in all things is key. In 2021, bad things will still happen. We still are going to face the challenges of 2020. New challenges will surface. It will be very easy to lose ourselves in that. But we do have a choice in how we respond. We can get lost in the negative, or we can continue to strive for the positive.

I am reminded of the closing scenes of Return of the Jedi. (Since this is technically a Star Wars website, I had to tie this in somehow!) Luke lost his father, and a journey that he started years before closed with death. It could be so easy to see the galaxy through the lens of those flames consuming all he ever knew about Anakin. But beyond those flames are fireworks, representing the good things that are still happening in spite of the tragedy. And Luke makes a choice – he joins his friends, and he celebrates, too.

We can make that choice. We can allow the things that divide us to continue to divide us, because those things will always be there. Or we can look to what unites us. We can choose to see the good in bad situations. We can choose to not be swallowed up by all the negativity that swirls around us.

Maybe 2021 isn’t a year of redemption or good luck or any of those things. Maybe 2021 is a year of choice. What will you do this year? How will you react to the things that happen around you? What can we learn about how we handled 2020 that may help us in 2021 (and beyond)? What can we all do better?

Let’s all try.

I wish you all the very best in 2021, and when things don’t look good, I wish you all the presence of mind to remain focused on the things that are still good.

Happy New Year!

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