What this year looks like is up to us

It seems no matter who you are or where you stand, 2016 was an emotional year. For me, 2016 certainly had extremely highs and scary lows, as I got married in June and then almost lost my father when he was involved in a horrific head-on in Yellowstone in September. We lost Prince, Bowie, Princess Leia, Willy Wonka and the great Muhammad Ali.

I could go on and on with reflection, but instead I’d like to move forward, and first ask, “how are you?” Really, I want to know. Some of us are hurting after 2016, and some of us aren’t, but we all still share this beautiful country and this beautiful county. At church, the congregation is asked to welcome those attending, to shake hands with a neighbor. It’s too bad such opportunities don’t also occur at work, sporting events or even happy hour.

The political season brought out the worst in a lot of us, as it often does, but this year, most can agree, really took the cake on a local, statewide and national level. And, as is the case any election year, there are winners and losers. We have to come together now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t express concerns. We should feel comfortable talking to people when we see something that disturbs us. Like Jack Kornfied said, “Whatever your political perspective, now is the season to stand up for what matters. To stand against hate. To stand for respect. To stand for protection of the vulnerable. To care for the natural world.”

This is not about red and blue, Kornfield writes, it’s about “standing up for the most basic of human principles, for moral action and the prevention of harm.”

What the next four years look like is anybody’s guess, but what this year looks is up to us. That’s the beauty of new year’s resolutions. And, this year, instead of focusing on how much to work out or personal ambition, I’m going to focus on family. I’m going to focus on what truly makes me grateful day in and day out. I want to enjoy my time with my wife and step-son, do fun things together and go places we haven’t been. I want to keep in better touch with my sister, brother-in-law and three nephews in North Carolina. Grateful to still have my father around, I want to spend as much time as possible with him and with my mother. It’s a blessing to have them in Montana, and I don’t want to take that for granted.


It can be easy to focus on the negative, and there will be plenty of it as the year goes on, but I recommend those reading this take the higher road and focus on the positive. Don’t lose sight of everything you have that you love. When you think about it, I’m sure you can find plenty. And when you search your soul for the positive, you may find something that surprises you. You may think of a long lost friend or family member. Call them. Get back in touch.

Let these emotions be the ones that guide you throughout the year, be it about relationships, business or politics. As Kornfield observed, “listen deeply, bear witness, honor everyone and choose actions wisely and courageously.”

Happy New Year to all.

(as published in the Lewistown News-Argus)

About CharliesTrail

Originally from Indianapolis, Denison is a writer and musician who has picked up culture and influences from eccentrics all over the U.S. and overseas. He is a University of Kentucky Journalism School grad and an award-winning Montana journalist. Through the years he's had work published by "Chicken Soup From the Soul," DVD Netflix, Montana Quarterly Magazine, NUVO and Americana Highways. He has a solo album, "Whispers of the Lonely," and continues to chip away at his first novel. Currently Denison is the editor of The Boulder Monitor in Boulder, Montana, where he lives with his wife.
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2 Responses to What this year looks like is up to us

  1. Sherry Edwards says:

    Thanks, Charlie, for reminding us what is really important. The loss and divisiveness of 2016 has dragged us away from who we really are. It will be a hard road back, but we’ll make it if people like you show us the way.

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