Good year? Bad year? In the end, it comes down to personal judgment.
We will read and hear a great deal of analysis about whether 2013 was a year to remember fondly or with a cry of “Good riddance!” And we’ll endure endless speculation regarding what 2014 might hold in store.
Much of this will focus on national issues and events, the year we all more or less experienced together. All these assessments are likely to mention stories such as the abominable Obamacare rollout and a Congress that couldn’t seem to accomplish anything of importance.
While most Americans are likely to agree that those happenings – along with tragedies such as the bombings during the Boston Marathon and the Philippine hurricane – represented the low points of 2013, judging other events will be a matter of perspective. During the year, gay rights, particularly gay marriage, made great strides; fracking made it possible to extract huge amounts of gas and oil trapped in shale rock, bringing the U.S. closer to energy independence; gun-reform advocates made no progress on new regulations in the wake of shootings in Newtown, Tucson, Virginia Tech and Washington, D.C.; a new, open-minded pope was selected; and we learned that our government spies on us – a lot.
Those all were momentous stories in their own way. But whether those stories are good news or bad news will depend on your point of view.
Most critics assert that 2013 was a great year for movies, music and the arts in general. This year also will see the Carolina Panthers return to the playoffs for the first time in five years.
And perhaps we all can breathe a sigh of relief that the national economy improved, perhaps to a sustainable level. Unemployment edged downward, home values stabilized, business activity increased and the stock market soared in 2013.
But not all ships rose with the tide. Many Americans still suffered from stagnant wages, underwater mortgages, dead-end jobs and dwindling savings.
So, in the end, it comes down to a personal reckoning. Forget the national news, did you win the lottery? Total your car? Marry your true love? Hire a divorce lawyer? Get into the college you wanted to? Miss a payment on your college loan?
Did you run a marathon? Find out you need a hip replacement? Move into a new house? Find termites in your current house? Buy a new iPhone? Drop it into a swimming pool? Lose weight? Stress out and gain it back? Grow great tomatoes? But the squirrels and birds got to them first?
Of course, those gains or setbacks pale next to the truly important personal events that might have occurred during the past year, births and deaths, sickness, accidents, anniversaries, life-altering good fortune, the safe return of a loved one from war. We’ll each have our own reasons for remembering – or trying to forget – 2013.
Likewise, we’ll also have personal reasons for either dreading or looking forward to 2014. Some will welcome the new year just because it means seeing the last one in the rearview mirror.
For others, though, 2014 will hold promise of better things to come, a reason for hope, the prospect of new opportunities, a new start, a happy event down the road, the chance to reach a significant milestone or just simply to find some contentment and satisfaction in our normal everyday lives.
We hope you are among those anticipating 2014 with a cheery outlook and an optimistic view of what might lie ahead. Sometimes – not always, but sometimes – we make our own good luck.
Happy New Year.