It’s the end of the year as we know it.

It’s the last day of the year. I won’t be going out tonight. I’m going to stay in with Jessica in our cosy home.

The general consensus is that 2014 was a crappy year for human beings on planet Earth. In actuality, and contrary to popular belief, the human race continued its upward trend of improvement in almost all areas. Less violence, less disease, fewer wars, a record-breaking minimum of air crashes, and while the disparity between the richest and the poorest has increased, the baseline level of what constitutes poverty continues to increase throughout the world.

This trend is often met with surprise, or even disbelief. Just ask Matt Ridley and Steven Pinker. We tend to over-inflate the negative and undervalue the positive. And we seem to do it more and more with each passing year (which, in itself, can be seen as part of the overall positive trend: the fact that violence and inequality outrages us now more than ever is, on balance, a good thing). It seems to be part of our modern human nature to allow the bad to overwhelm the good in its importance.

Take my past year, for example. There was so much that was good. It was a good year for Clearleft and I travelled to marvellous places (Tel Aviv, Munich, Seattle, Austin, San Diego, Riga, Freiburg, Bologna, Florida, and more). I ate wonderful food. I read. I wrote. I listened. I spoke. I attended some workshops. I ran some workshops. I learned. I taught. I went to some great events. I organised Responsive Day Out 2 and dConstruct. I even wrote the occasional bit of code.

But despite all of that, 2014 is a year that feels dominated by death.

It started at the beginning of the year with the death of Jessica’s beloved Oma. The only positive spin I can put on it is that she had a long life, and she died surrounded by her family (Jessica included). But it was still a horrible event.

For the first half of the year, the web community was united behind Eric as he went through the unimaginable. Then, in June, Rebecca died. And the web community was united in sorrow. It was such an outrage against all that is good in this world.

I visited Eric that day. I tried to convey how much the people of the web were feeling for him. I couldn’t possibly convey it, but I had to try. I offered what comfort I could, but some situations are so far beyond normalcy that literally nothing can be done.

That death, the death of a child …there’s something so wrong, so obscene about it.

One month later, Chloe killed herself.

I miss her. I miss her so much.

So I understand why, despite the upward trends in human achievement, despite all the positive events of the last twelve months, 2014 feels like a year of dread and grief. I understand why so many people are happy to see the back of 2014. Good riddance, right?

But I still don’t want to let the bad—and boy, was it ever bad—crush the good. I’m seeing out the year as I mean to go on: eating good food, drinking good wine, reading, writing, and being alive.

It’s the last day of the year. I won’t be going out tonight. I’m going to stay in with Jessica in our cosy home.

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Responses

Jason Garber

Today we’re marking the end of one ride around the Sun and the beginning of another. It’s an arbitrary designation, to be certain. But, it’s also a time for reflection on the preceding 365/6 days.

As Jeremy wrote yesterday, 2014 felt dominated by death. Lauren lost her father in January. Eric lost his young daughter. We all lost Chloe. My grandmother passed away just before the holidays. In my life, death has never cut so deep and with such frequency as it did in 2014.

While doing my best to help others navigate the grieving process, I tied my own grief into a knot and buried it low. Over time, the knot grew and metastasized, infected my overall being, and typically manifested as anger and negativity. This corrosive knot led to all manner of misunderstandings and outbursts that could’ve easily been avoided if I were more communicative and honest with those around me. Correcting this is my primary goal for 2015.

While we each experienced our own varied personal tragedies, Jeremy notes that the world still managed to improve in many ways:

Less violence, less disease, fewer wars, a record-breaking minimum of air crashes, and while the disparity between the richest and the poorest has increased, the baseline level of what constitutes poverty continues to increase throughout the world.

In that spirt, I’ll note here a few of the highlights from the past year:

Lauren and I were fortunate to travel together to Colorado, New York City (twice!), South Korea, Delaware, North Carolina, and various other points around the DC/Maryland/Virginia region. After a period of relative inactivity, The Orchid regrouped, adding two new members. We’re currently writing new songs, working out old songs, and looking for shows. Expect new music soon, too. Refresh DC wrapped up another successful year of events and I have every confidence that 2015 will be even better. I wrote a lot of code. I saw a ton of great live music: RX Bandits (twice!), Murder By Death (twice!), The Sound of Animals Fighting, United Nations, Slowdive, Jenny Lewis, Saves The Day, Reggie and the Full Effect, Fairweather, and Black Clouds (twice!) I met Big Bird! Last year was hard. Really hard. But, like Jeremy, I won’t let the bad eclipse the good. The New Year presents an opportunity for a fresh start and I’ll work as hard as I can to take advantage of that opportunity.

4 Likes

# Liked by Aegir Hallmundur on Wednesday, December 31st, 2014 at 8:42pm

# Liked by a Tom on Thursday, January 1st, 2015 at 7:05pm

# Liked by Anselm Hannemann on Thursday, January 1st, 2015 at 7:05pm

# Liked by Jessica on Thursday, January 1st, 2015 at 7:05pm