A Few Things I’ve Learned in 2017

I’m not a fan of listacles, so do forgive. As these are not in any particular order of importance, this might not even be a true list.

One thing I’ve learned is that giving someone the benefit of the doubt is not always wise. I had briefly entertained the notion in early 2017 that Trump’s minders would cool down his twitter tantrums and hate-spewed rhetoric. Boy, was I wrong.

Related to that, though perhaps more to the debacle called Brexit, I’ve learned more about being a political activist. Attending marches and rallies is the easy part. The hard part is staying informed in the age of the post-truth – I’m regularly checking sources. The other hard part is trying to use logic and reason in the face of stubborn, illogical adversity. I’ve learned to continue to advance my argument – there’s always the chance that my opponent will walk away and think about what I’ve said later on. Of course, there’s also the likelihood that nothing I say will make a difference if someone has been brainwashed by the Brexit cult – or some other political cult bent on vituperation.

I also discovered this year that I’m likely to be histamine intolerant – there’s no known test for it. As a result of this knowledge though, I made several small changes to my diet and I now no longer suffer daily with blocked sinus, headaches or bloodshot eyes. The lesson learned emerges from the fact that a few times over the years pharmacists and doctors have vaguely suggested allergies, but, with the exception of spring flowers that make most everyone sniffle and sneeze, I was reluctant to accept this possibility. Had I taken on board these ideas, I might have found out sooner about my intolerance for certain foods. Before 2017, I didn’t want to see myself as someone who had allergies or couldn’t eat this or that because of intolerances – someone who might be a hypochondriac or simply self-absorbed.  A strange sort of projection of the ego – but there you go – I’m over it. Lesson learned.

And finally, there are those things that I’ve re-learned. I know I’ve learned these things in the past, but awareness of them now feels new as if learning them for the first time. Perhaps this comes from the memory wiring in my brain. One of these re-learns is the lesson of learning languages. It doesn’t get any easier. The bar just gets raised higher. Another relearn comes from my life as a writer. I’m constantly learning about my craft which is necessary to being a writer. I’ve known this for years, but sometimes it just seems to hit me with awe.

So, as dreadful as the world has been with its Trump and Brexit supporters, its climate change deniers, its wars, its femicide and mass killings, the capacity to learn has helped to make it bearable. Another year is ending, another to look forward to.

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