About a year ago, I dryly joked to a friend that 2008 would be the Year of Change. A bad breakup had left me pretty shattered, and various other little earthquakes and aftershocks in my personal and professional life seemed to be sending a very clear message that the ground was shifting, and I was going to have to shift with it. As the year rolled forward, my half-joking idea of a year of change kept surprising me. This revolutionary presidential race happened, and there was this persistent theme of hope and change as something real and possible and vital. And then the economy collapsed, in a swirling cloud of bad mortgages, bailouts, fear and confusion.
Yesterday was New Year's Day, and as I nursed a champagne hangover with good friends, eating greasy takeout and watching Moonstruck, I considered 2008, the Year of Change, and what all these changes will mean in 2009. We're waking up to a new world that might feel uncomfortable and uncertain, in which things might get worse before they get better. That's what CNN is telling me, anyway, and when the talking heads talk about the federal reserve, stimulus packages, and a possible 10% unemployment rate by the end of the year, it feels a little like the world is spinning out of control and hiding under a rock might be a good plan for '09.
So if things are really falling apart, why do I feel so excited to see what all this change will bring? Maybe it's residual optimism from the Obama campaign, but I see something hopeful in the doom and gloom. I see a possibility that even as things fall apart, the cream will rise to the top. There's something about having less that has historically allowed us to create more. The Depression was also the golden era of film, and the late 60's recession helped end the era of big studio epics in favor of the smaller movies that have become classics, like Rosemary's Baby.
So here's my wish for all of us 2009: Watch more movies. Read more books. Turn off the news and tune in to the stuff that sustains us when we don't have much money. And then create something. Write. Sing. Dance. Paint. Take photos. Whatever it is you do, do it more, do it bigger, do it louder, and do it better. What do we have to lose?