An Elegy to the Year Now Passing

By | Posted at 6:51 PM

A single porch light glows across the night scene from my back window. The wind is blowing gently, but persuasively. A certain sadness seems entwined in this, and yet the warm glow of the Christmas lights that twinkle about me inside pulls me from waxing on too much about the cold I only see, and am not left to survive in this night. Such is 2007 as it bids us farewell.

Back when I was primarily a technology writer, my end of the year articles typically were highly optimistic treatises talking up the glories of the segment of the industry I wrote about. There are always plenty of good events that happen in a year for an industry, and everyone likes a feel good story to sum up a year. And yet one year not too long ago, the whole idea seemed too shallow as my father lay in a hospital bed with various heart problems and my grandmother was slowly being ravaged by the cruel foe that is Alzheimer's. So I dropped the traditional article; and let it slide by as if it never happened. It has not from my pen since.

In many ways, I would rather like to continue to do the same. 2007 was not a bad year, if by bad, it means that I — an average American — suffered like a great many in the world do. By many standards, it might be said the year was quite good. And, that I cannot deny. Reviewing any year is bound to recall a symphony of simple pleasures — a day by the waterside as shady trees provide a canopy of coolness during the summer or the beauty of a late evening snowfall with just the dimmest light about making one aware of the flakes. The warm glow of a holiday dinner with family. The joy of a short conversation, unexpected, with a friend. Simple blessings worth being thankful for far more than the latest sales figures of a computer operating system, though somehow lacking the favor shown to the latter in these types of columns.

However, 2007 faces the same fate as most years — even if the hugely tragic has not occurred, what of those called seemingly too soon by death? Other friends or family members yanked away by damaged relationships? Stresses that picked away at precious time and good intentions that have collapsed into rubble? A dull ache pounds away seemingly unquenchable at the might-have-beens and the almost-weres. And what of those who do suffer so much more than I? A wise professor of mine would refer to all these things, perhaps, as yearnings for Eden. Every year starts so fresh and new, it seems almost to have the potential that an untainted creation had, and yet the year, like humanity, is fallen even as it starts. Such is clearer at the end than the beginning.

An elegiac mood seems right to end a year. A year once young and full of potential, and, yes, many joys, now fades away. And yet, New Years Eve should have some sense of the exuberance of my past columns — if only because 2008's beginning offers yet another drop of hope, another chance to get things right. Eden's lure may be beyond a person's grasp at present, and yet there is always the chance that the next year will grow closer to the ideal of God's intent, even as the last one seemingly failed. A fresh start means a chance that some of the hopes and dreams left unfilled in the dying year might be filled in the one soon birthed. A fresh start is like the glow of the Christmas lights or the porch in the dark, unkind night. Yes, a fresh start.

Timothy R. Butler is editor-in-chief of Open for Business.

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