With the conclusion of 2012 arriving in just a few days, I can’t help but do a year in review. I think it’s important, at the year’s end, to take stock and evaluate the previous events and days that make up a life. I’m also a glutton for year in review lists, whether they be the best books, music, politics, or events. I like to see what reporters and magazines chart as the highlight of the year and then look at my life and see what made the top list and what should be surrendered to 2012. Reflecting upon the moments of this past year, it’s not easy to summarize my year into one neat catchphrase (Gangnam style, anyone?) but without a doubt, this year was significant. With just three days left of 2012, I can easily and with a smile on my face, declare: this was a good year. A year to be proud of. A year to cherish. A year I will never forget. A year of adventures that started in long underwear and will probably end in long underwear, howling at the dark sky and playing in the snow.
Since I’m always seeking out metaphors, I couldn’t be more pleased that I celebrated the birth of 2012 at a cabin near the Benchmark trailhead on the eastern edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Celebrating the New Year with handful of good friends in a remote hunting cabin, after skiing and snowmobiling eight miles to the cabin, is the benchmark on which I will compare the rest of my year to. To begin a new year under the shadows of the mountains in a most wild place is a fortuitous way to set about the journey of a year. To be so close to the heart of the mountains is, in my humble opinion, is always a precious experience, be it holiday or not.
And what many precious days unfolded after January 1, 2012. My September 8th marriage to Cole on Lake McDonald. Acceptance into the MFA Creative Writing program with the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. The purchase of an old brick building in downtown Kalispell that will house Cole’s lifelong dream of a craft brewery. Turning thirty years old. The adult version of spring break skiing in Girdwood, Alaska, a place that nearly stole my heart as much as Montana did in 2004. Climbing peaks in Glacier National Park and hiking new trails in North Cascades National Park. Wandering around the Tuscan countryside, drinking copious amounts of wine, and celebrating our honeymoon in Italy. Returning to Oktoberfest in Munich to cap off our honeymoon, with a stein or two (or three or four) from the Hofbrauhous beer tent.
The year was not free of its pains and worries. No year ever is. And while goodness may have blessed me and my loved ones, the world is still burdened with suffering. Wars still rage. Economies collapse. The environment suffers. Innocent people, many who are children, are murdered. Politics are divisive and discouraging. Families tear apart. Bones break.
It’s not always easy to read the “best of” lists or think back to the year’s benchmarks when so much sadness, grief, and horror touch all of us, despite our geography, sex, race, class, or beliefs. But these lists tell us of our accomplishments and how all of us can share and delight in the best book or the best album or the best photograph of the year. Because no matter what, I believe people are still creating beautiful things, whether its words or art, and they want to share that beauty and talent to all of us. Inspiration still lurks among us, even with Gangnam Style.
I may just be another woman in a binder (ah, can’t forget the best gaffes of the year, either) but as I hold on to the remaining days of a year, I make sure to reflect and celebrate the days that compromised just one year in a most happy life.