“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” So began Charles Dickens’ narrative in A Tale of Two Cities. It seems to me that opening could describe 2012 and just about any year to which you care to apply it, regardless of whether you are thinking of local, national or global events, or simply of your own life.
I won’t attempt to review the year’s public events. Much more capable media have already done that. It leads us to much head shaking in the knowledge of mankind’s foolishness and its unfathomable cruelty – especially to its own kind as exemplified in mass shootings in the US, gang rape in India and the torture of dissident thinkers across the world. So much for the worst of times. They just don’t seem to let up or go away.
The best of times – some pretty impressive things did take place in 2012, events that actually give rise to hope. Just one example: The London Olympics and Paralympics were a resounding success despite the fear that the public transport system could collapse under the onslaught of visitors and that the ever-present threat of terror attacks could lead to a catastrophe. In the end the Olympics proved to be a global sports festival that contributed significantly to erasing the line between athletes and para-athletes.
In the end most of us judge a year based on our own personal gains and losses, successes and failures. For me, 2012 was a milestone with the publication in September of my debut novel, The Peace Bridge, a project on which I’d spent circa five years of my ever-shortening life. It’s been exhilarating for me to hear from readers who enjoyed the story and understood its deeper sense, who have encouraged me to get on with my next novel, a prequel which will star Uncle Ezra.
But joy is often tempered by pain. During the last six months my mother-in-law suffered terribly from debilitating illnesses. And that we live in a different country from her complicated the situation immensely. We’d made many additional trips over to England to visit her this past year. In fact, when the message came from the hospital, we were on the road once again, this time to spend New Year’s and her 87th birthday with her. But she had passed peacefully in her sleep. We missed seeing her one last time by 9 hours. We so regret that she had to die alone. But at least her pain was over.
Addendum: Just to ensure I was quoting Dickens correctly, I looked up the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities. I had the first part verbatim, but I was intrigued by the entire paragraph and have pasted it in for you below. It truly gives us food for thought, not to mention that it is a killer start to a novel! (Now all I have to do is find a comparable one for my next opus…)
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.