OP/ED: Why 2013 didn't COMPLETELY suck
I’ve never been one to buy into the idea that 13 is an unlucky number … but if anything could convince me otherwise, it would have to be the year 2013.
I’ve always – for more than a decade now – written a column each New Year trying to sum up the year’s coverage, but all I could seem to come up with for this year was, “Wow, that one really sucked.”
Not exactly exemplary journalism, that …but there it is.
That being said, I didn’t want to bring people down with the litany of horrible news this region has seen in what I will always remember as the bad-news-cycle-that-just-wouldn’t-end – I’ve literally never, in my almost decade-and-a-half of journalism, seen a year one-tenth as bad.
In previous years, if we lost more than one of our young people, it would be remembered as horrific, and rightly so. This year, we lost nine. Most in car crashes, but to other causes, too, and all of them were tragic. Two young, fit teachers (both of them beloved) in their early 40s, who died suddenly and without warning. We lost a dedicated and distinguished member of our police force, himself only 40.
Then there’s the flood that swept away a local home, fires that burned down several homes, the intentionally-set fire that not only destroyed our local Catholic church, but also very likely the lives of the two young people who set it, and a raging forest fire that burned, uncontrolled, for weeks on Perry Ridge.
Oh, and did I mention the worst toxic jet-fuel spill in the region’s recorded history, which saw 35,000 litres of fuel dumped into Lemon Creek?
And the armed robberies. And the mudslides. And the animal abuse.
I could go on, but I have no desire to, nor do I think you’d want to read it, if I did.
It just sucked, is all.
So I kept trying to find the positive spin, but everything I came up with seemed cliche and trite.
Maybe that’s because my personal life didn’t offer much relief – I lost a beloved friend far too young, and underwent what I thought would be a minor surgery, but ended up being six weeks of relentless agony that threatened both my health and my sanity. My business was experiencing growing pains, as was my teenager, and while lots of things were good, none of them were easy, you know?
I wasn’t in my happy place, then …but I’m finding it again now.
So I’m looking at my personal life more closely, trying to figure out why I’m back to feeling strong and optimistic, and trying to figure out how to translate that to speak to the hardships 2013 brought this whole region.
And the answers I’m coming up with are all trite, cliche … and true.
It’s the whole silver lining thing, and exercising gratitude.
It’s easy to look at the awful headlines and think the sky is falling – but it’s what’s behind the headlines that makes true community. We saw the heartache and loss – but we also saw people rallying and coming together.
Like the many people who opened their hearts and homes to evacuees during the spill containment. And the massive search parties who gathered to look for our own who were missing. And the many who won’t rest until our church is rebuilt.
There were animals rescued, and missing people found, and a food bank stocked.
And it didn’t stop at our borders – the Kootenay response to help our Calgary brethren when that city was besieged by floodwater was truly phenomenal. Truckload after truckload after truckload of help found its way from us to them.
There’s something to be said for knowing we’ll face calamity with love and generosity – and good humour, too, as evidenced by the dinosaur story that made The Source’s top 10 list (see here).
We also never stopped building and growing – the Millennium Ponds project is well underway, a beautiful heron sculpture now graces our highway interchange, we have new businesses in the downtown core and throughout the community, and environmental improvement continues both on a corporate city level and with individual businesses and residents.
New babies were born, people got married (and divorced, to be sure), and life is going on, much of it joyfully and successfully, regardless the news of the day.
I think Pay it Forward Day was a perfect example of how we, in the Koots, embrace what’s truly important – not just the headlines, but the day-to-day interactions that tell us we can weather, not just today’s storm, but whatever comes.
And if one can find no other cause for gratitude, there’s always this: there are only a few hours of 2013 left.
Wishing all the best to you and yours in the New Year – may your 2014 be gentle, kind and joyous!