As this year winds to an end, I marvel at how Twenty-Seventeen seems to have passed with unusual speed. It seems like only a few months ago, I was putting together a playlist for a party-favor mix-CD for the New Year’s Eve bash I was co-hosting. To me, 2016 seemed like one of the most manic-depressive years of extreme highs and lows that I remembered experiencing in a long time, with the elation of the Chicago Cubs (finally) winning the World Series title, a rapid-fire slew of celebrity deaths, and myriad other political and cultural occurrences, both good and bad. I ended last year in a very dark place for a variety of reasons, but held out hope that 2017 would somehow be better… because it couldn’t not be better, just by default. Much of 2017 was, indeed, an improvement over the year before it.
I’m not actually sure what model year of eight-generation (1979 – ’85) Cadillac Eldorado the above car was, as I was scrambling to get my lens cap off before it disappeared. If this Eldo was a ’79 or an ’80, I’m sure that at the time it was new, many Americans might have viewed the upcoming, new decade of the 1980s with more than a bit of uncertainty. The necessities of downsizing cars had already been the reality for several years, and bigger was no longer seen as better. There was a new United States president, new wave music, a new economic recession – lots of change occurred at that time. Also in 1980, my family’s plans to relocate overseas were thwarted by a military coup that had occurred in the country to which we had planned to move.
Coincidentally, “change” ended up being my buzzword for this year. For as many things that seemed murky as I faced the new year, I learned more about my own capacity to meld and adapt, and that I had more ability for it than I had previously believed. By necessity, I learned and have now nearly mastered a whole, new set of systems at work. I became and felt even more empowered to make my voice heard when it truly mattered, with judicious use of what I felt was good discretion.
I conquered a certain fear of overseas travel with as many senseless, unsavory acts going on in the world that seem to be reported almost daily. My weeklong, November trip to Italy, which included Rome, the site of the classic Mini above, was not just a welcome change of environment, but a reminder that the world is such a bigger place than the handful of states and zip codes in which I spend the bulk of my time throughout the year.
I acclimated to a new personal computer after my old one died. I made and retained friendships with people whose opinions on certain things important to me couldn’t differ more from my own. I learned to become a better, more objective listener. Of even more significance, I found the courage to let some friendships and other things go, with the continued understanding that being respected is always more important than being liked. To me, all of these accomplishments were noteworthy. What do all of these things have to do with two pictures of two cars on two different continents, speeding down two main thoroughfares?
My premise is this, and as the late, great, Detroit-born trumpeter Donald Byrd sang on the Mizell Brothers-produced classic above, “Change makes you want to hustle.” Just like the drivers of these two cars appeared to be making haste to get to their respective destinations, sometimes one simply has to continue to move steadily forward, even if armed with little else but blunt determination. Twenty-Seventeen turned out more than alright. I am confident that 2018, though it will inevitably differ from this year, will bring even more change, but with the new things I’ve learned about myself over the course of the past 356 days, I’m pretty sure I’ll be alright, no matter what. Onward march.
Eldorado as seen in Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois, on Saturday, September 2, 2017.
Mini as seen in Rome, Italy on Saturday, November 11, 2017.