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Some of my lessons learned from the year that was


“Five-hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes…

How do you measure a year in the life?”—Rent

It’s almost impossible to believe, but here we are again, at the turn of the calendar. This brief pause in between Christmas and New Year’s is perfectly situated to allow us to take stock of the year that was, and help chart your course into the year that is about to be.

So, what was 2017 to you?

January brought us the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, and we all learned to deal with the trivial, the puerile, the small, and the occasionally disgusting spectacle of the Presidential Twitter account. Along the way, there have been six press secretaries, five national security advisers, four White House counsels, three directors of the F.B.I., two Secretaries of State, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Ho ho ho.

Yes, that was hyperbole. Not by a lot, but…

April began the exodus of three of my favorite people in the whole world, all of whom found themselves moving into the next stages of their lives, and out of the roles in which I’d grown to love them.

April also gave our Denver Pioneer hockey team its eighth National Championship. That is an unbelievable record of accomplishment for any team, much less one that whose home is hardly a frozen paradise.

Somewhere along the way, basically every man in any position of power in Hollywood became the target of sexual harassment claims. By the end of this process, somewhere around July, 2024, there will basically be nobody left in Hollywood, and the only people capable of making movies any more will be people like National Lampoon and pornography producers, who quite painstakingly claim the moral low ground at every opportunity. And, yeah, the irony of Hugh Hefner showing up on the cover of Newsweek the week of his death is not lost on me.

I will always remember Aug. 21, as the day I got to see a total eclipse of the sun in some strange backwater parking lot in Nebraska with my son.

Shortly after that, the world started to come apart at the seams, beginning with three hurricanes making landfall in three weeks, continuing with a retired millionaire inexplicably raining gunfire down on a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas, and culminating in Southern California burning.

October gave us our one playoff game for a professional Colorado sports team. Dilly dilly.

And that’s just domestic events — I haven’t even delved into earthquakes, mudslides, terrorism and genocide going on around the world.

On the smaller scale, 2017 will be the year that my wife won a major award, my daughter earned her way into two professional dance companies, my other daughter earned a great leadership position and joined the workforce, and my son earned a spot on a competitive soccer team. Actually, a pretty impressive year for my little family.

So, what does that point to for me? What have I learned from this year that I intend to take forward?

First of all, focus on what is within my grasp and reach. 2017 taught me that the world at large is getting coarser, uglier, more hostile, and way more unpredictable. And that, quite likely, the forces that are at play in the world are so far beyond my control that it’s not even worth spending a lot of energy on. I’ll still point to it all and try to find the humor, but I just don’t have the energy to keep any of it on my front page.

Secondly, the great moments are all going to be the ones that end with giving a loved one a “high five” and a hug.


Raise a glass to 2017, people! Throw it down, throw the glass away, grab hands with the people you want to walk with through 2018, and hold on tight! Godspeed!

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His novels are available at MichaelJAlcorn.com


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