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New Year’s Believe

Reflecting on a rough 2012, the Tattler suggests we all resolve to do the best we can with what we’ve got

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2012 is almost over. We’ve caught up on Homeland, there’s a royal heir on the way—speaking of which, please allow me to take this opportunity to apologize for any confusion my Tweets may have caused as to the doings of my own womb; the fact that you think that I might plausibly refer to myself as “Her Royal Highness” calls for some serious introspection, to say the least—and we’ve all seen Les Misérables and adjusted our feelings about Anne Hathaway accordingly.

But otherwise, things are feeling pretty much the same this year as they did last time. We have the same president (thank God); the world didn’t end; Republicans in Congress are attempting to hold the country and its economy hostage over some predictable and utterly manufactured mishegas. As for Israel, well, Iran, settlements, Hamas, no peace talks—you know that song like you know every word to I Dreamed a Dream. Basically, we’re all just running down the clock, hoping that any looming catastrophe will keep until we’re safely dead.

No wonder everyone gets so wasted on New Year’s Eve.

Which brings me to a point of reflection for which I don’t even have to bring in a member of the clergy, Maureen Dowd-style. I was all set to present you a whole long list of Tattler’s New Year’s Resolutions, written in our signature house blend of self-deprecation/congratulations (i.e., how all the things we do wrong just secretly proves how we’re doing everything right). But with the mood the world seems to be in this year—with Antarctica melting twice as fast as even the most pessimistic scientists predicted and the fact that despite everything we’ve been through in terms of gun violence you can still buy such weapons of destruction at Wal-Mart with no questions asked while the TSA can unilaterally confiscate anything they want on account of that one guy who might have maybe been thinking about bringing an exploding bottle of Gatorade on a plane one time—I think maybe I have just one resolution.

Someone once told me that they key to a successful marriage isn’t so much finding someone who can give you what you need, but making yourself stop needing the things that he can’t give you. It’s sound advice, and therefore, I think perhaps one of the best things we can do for ourselves this year is to embrace the stasis. Focus less on some big transformational change—on imagining a thinner, richer, more actualized self—and appreciate what is. We all do the best we can, so by definition, we are all living our best lives, and no amount of carb-limited diets or overpriced scented candles are going to change that. It just might be that our best isn’t so great. Maybe our best is just OK, and maybe that’s OK. At least we’re not tubercular prostitutes in 19th-century France selling our molars for two thin squares of oatmeal paste a day. And if we are, well, it could have been a kidney. And if it was a kidney, at least we’re not dead. And if we’re dead, then hey, as Woody Allen once said, there are things worse than death. (Although not, it seems, the chicken at Tresky’s.)

I’m sorry if this sounds depressing. I don’t mean it to. In fact, I have come to believe there’s something comforting, even beautiful, about feeling stuck. On Christmas Day, after we gave the cat her stocking—the feline Santa makes no religious distinctions—we went to see Les Misérables. Behind us on line was a woman who struck up a conversation by loudly proclaiming herself “the quintessential Jewish mother” in the way our people sometimes need to declare to each other what is absolutely obvious. With her was her twenty-something son, nodding sheepishly but gamely along as she listed his attributes, detailed their holiday plans (can you believe it, they go to the movies every year?) and basically sounded so familiar I wondered if her face was actually a Scooby Doo-villain rubber mask that would peel back to reveal my own mother standing before me, having rented male offspring for the occasion. When that son thought about his goals and dreams for 2012, had they included this moment? This time last year, of being somewhere, someone else, a billionaire with a private jet, signing a standard Rich-and-Famous contract, of sitting in a hot tub with his soulmate?

Probably. But at that particular moment, as he laughed along, it didn’t seem like any of us would have had that moment any other way. This may not be the best of all possible worlds, but it isn’t the worst either.

Enjoy it while it lasts. Happy New Year.

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Rachel, such beautiful writing. But a slight shift in point of views: We do our best to repair the world but somehow the small repair — the kindness to a husband or child, the kindness to a stranger, the rents in our fabric that need a needle and thread need to be fixed first. But after this, we should still hope that we can make a difference in the bigger tears in our world: too many guns, not enough food for all, too many wars, not enough peace. Too many blues, not enough rock ‘n roll?

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New Year’s Believe

Reflecting on a rough 2012, the Tattler suggests we all resolve to do the best we can with what we’ve got

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