I remember watching my little brother get bullied by a kid named Patrick in one of our California neighborhoods. Mark would be walking home from school, and Patrick would pounce on his back and start wailing on him for no good reason.
He was two years older than my little brother, so as the older sibling, I would then pounce on Patrick and kick the hell out of him with my corrective shoes.
I tend to be a fighter, which I would like to think comes from a sense of justice, but it's mostly because my flat feet make me horrible at flight.
But I made a difference, because I fought for my brother. I learned that having steel-toed corrective shoes provided a competitive advantage. And I learned that a penchant for sarcasm meant I would have a life with more fights than most.
My brother learned martial arts and ended up taking care of himself, but my eye for bullies has remained sharp.
This has been a tough year, and as we've lost artists like Prince, George Michael, and Carrie Fisher, I've noticed that 2016 is getting pounced on. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been reading a lot of comments like -
So over 2016
You suck 2016
I hate 2016
Worst. Year. Ever.
I feel like 2016 is getting bullied, and I don't like it when anyone or anything is bullied. Even a year.
Has 2016 been all that bad? Granted, we elected Gordon Gekko to the White House, and he can't seem to stop tweeting. This is the man to whom we we will entrust all of our country's top secrets. While I worry about the security of our country, I also look forward to the reality show that will be created with the alien information.
I admit that Mother Nature has visited us with some apocalyptic weather this year, and amazing artists have dropped like flies. But I also think we are projecting our fear onto an innocent timeframe. We are angry and afraid. I mean, we are ridiculously angry.
Everybody is sure that the other person's choice for office is the anti-Christ. We are stockpiling guns as if we've been personally threatened by everybody in the world. In my neighborhood this year the most crowded store on Christmas Eve was the local gun shop.
Somewhere I heard baby Jesus rolling over in his manger.
It seems that we can't just disagree with someone, we have to HATE them. I mean, spit on them, wish-they-would-die-while-suffering-horribly kind of hate.
A movie is no longer just disliked. It is attacked with "Rotten Tomatoes" and mocked mercilessly.
A young girl isn't just a friend or someone you don't like that much, she is your BFF or a total, skanky hoe.
Since the election, I have friends threatening to leave the country, others who are considering joining a cult, and even a few who are hoarding gold and stockpiling canned goods in the basement.
Now our world of extremes is picking on poor 2016, a year that is just limping to the finish line.
I'm wondering if our biggest problem isn't so much the year as the fact that we aren't creating enough to replace what we are losing? We're so focused on our fifteen minutes of fame, body shaming, and eating junk food that we're forgetting our ability to create.
What will the future museums capture from 2016? Will they be filled with pictures of women in tight dresses and stiletto heels taking selfies? Or with manscaped males in tight suits and Italian leather shoes also taking selfies?
We have forgotten to look beyond our own cameras, I think, and we're blaming 2016. We don't want to become the artists who create and suffer the criticism. We just want to watch.
We elected a man who became famous through a reality television show, for heaven's sake.
A non-sexual voyeurism has somehow become the norm. We're turning into the creepy guy staring at others through our phones and computers and televisions.
We have mistaken "watching" for "doing." Our snarky selves come with a certain cowardice.
At least 2016 put all of its energy into being 2016. It didn't walk along with a phone, taking videos of itself. It didn't stand back from its own existence and play the victim.
2016 was in the ring sweating it out, accepting those who cashed in their chips and housing a historically significant election. It was there when the Cubs finally broke their curse, and brought us movies like "Fences" and "Moonlight."
It also brought us record fires and floods.
But maybe 2016 is trying to tell us what to pay attention to. Perhaps last year is cleansing our earth's palate for something greater. Maybe 2016 is surfacing all of the ugly racism and anger that's been simmering under the surface for too long so that we can deal with it.
Nothing has more power than that which is underground.
Whatever the case, I'd like to declare my responsibility for the year. I spent more time in front of the television than I did in the ring making a difference. I've spent years talking about recycling but not doing it.
I found a coach to teach me how to write so people would follow my blog, rather than writing what I felt.
I spent way too much time reflecting on me, and too little time making a difference for others.
Bottom-line, 2016 isn't responsible for what we just experienced. We are all responsible. I am responsible.
Let's stop blaming 2016 and start acting. That's what I'm going to do.
Tell 2017 I'm putting on my corrective shoes.