New Year’s Eve is always a bittersweet time for me: I inevitably find myself dejected when I reflect upon all of those yearly resolutions which I made 364 days earlier that I never managed to attain, but I’m also a little hopeful – maybe next year will be the year that I finally publish that critically acclaimed collection of poetry or finish that novel or stick to a workout schedule for more than a few weeks…

 

I experience those exact same emotions when looking back on humankind every year as well. There were certainly some remarkable achievements in 2009 – Obama being sworn in as President; the two U.S. journalists freed in North Korea after former President Clinton’s visit with Kim Jong Il; NASA’s Hubbel Telescope receiving a long awaited upgrade – with spectacular results; B&N launching its eBook reader, nook; etc. – but there were just as many noteworthy lows – the Swine Flu scare, record unemployment, the Bernard Madoff and Mark Sanford scandals, and let’s not forget the Balloon Boy hoax, Jon and Kate Gosselin, the Salahis, and MTV’s Jersey Shore….

 

As a lifetime reader of science fiction, I find the passing of the years particularly intriguing – especially how legendary SF writers from the past imagined the world in the 21st century, the 22nd century, etc. Did they believe that by 2009, humankind would have already colonized the stars? Or would we have destroyed ourselves with nuclear weapons, bioengineered warfare or just plain stupidity? (And did any writer predict Octomom?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfully, Harrison’s vision of an overpopulated and undernourished Earth hasn’t come to fruition – yet. And neither has Niven and Pournelle’s giant comet or Zebrowski’s speculation of an uninhabitable planet – yet. (Dann’s vision of a large-scale outbreak of shared insanity, however, did manifest itself temporarily in 2009 when The Twilight Saga: New Moon opened in theatres and the phenomenon known as Twilight Moms swept the nation….)

 

So, with a new year quickly approaching, I wanted to make you all aware, once again, of humankind’s – and your own – gloriously limitless potential. We can do anything if we truly set our minds to it. Look around. Every single one of us is going to die sooner or later, be it by simply growing too old or by getting squished by a wayward comet. The future is now! Let’s make this year one of the best years of our lives! Like the characters in the science fiction novels I mentioned who have to deal with a plethora of cataclysms – starvation, disease, plague, mass death, etc. – let’s live life with a sense of urgency in 2010 and do something extraordinary!

 

Even though the near future in these novels is bleak, the one universal theme throughout is hope. There is always hope – it’s just a matter of what we do with it.

 

What do you want to achieve in 2010?

Comments
by on ‎12-28-2009 10:57 AM

This post is inspiring, Paul.  I like to think on the nicer things that we should be driving flying cars, and robots cleaning our houses, along with living on the moon.  I try to not think on the books that think we are killing or will kill ourselves off.  But this post here is making me think.

 

I am going to have to think of just one thing to do in 2010 to help another.  I think that is a great idea, to accomplish one thing for others rather than myself.  I was actually thinking around Thanksgiving that if we didn't have so much family to go see I would like to help in a soup kitchen or somewhere for the holidays.  Maybe even donate food toward it.  I am going to have to look around my area and see if there is a place that I can do just that.

 

I have always wanted to donate clothes and toys that are just slightly used, one that found the corner that never seemed to get found by us there.  But there is nowhere that wants things out of the boxes or with out tags.  It is a shame.  We have things here that don't even look like they were ever used and no one will take them.

 

I am going to look around and see if I can help out even just in a small way. 

by on ‎12-28-2009 12:22 PM

Paul,

 

Once again you have us thinking and like Melissa I plan on looking for ways that will help us all have a brighter future.  I know it won't be a big newsworthy thing which is okay with me but if I can make one persons life a bit better than I'm happy.  Have a Great New Year!

 

Toni

by on ‎12-28-2009 06:15 PM

Great post Paul.

 

Let's see. I've followed reduce, reuse, recycle for years. Do the energy efficeint thingy. Donate clothes, toys, dodads to Goodwill, Salvation Army (Melhay they'll both take the boxless taggless gently used), and the area of the dump that has a sign saying "Want it, can fix it, take it". Food to the food bank before every feasting holiday.I even save the tab pulls off can drinks cause it seams like every few months some one's collecting those for charity matching. Blew the guy collecting for a childs dialasis away; when he asked and I passed over a baggie "so 100 makes 2 days worth, right here you go this should cover her for a month or so".

 

Not sure I could sleep without doing the little things. Cause there's not jack I can do about a giant crashing object form space.

by on ‎12-28-2009 08:07 PM

This post of yours made me think.

Yes I am going to organize my stuff (keep, disabled vets or garbage). I hope it helps the vets as much as it will me.

I did better at recycling last year, but I can still work on this area.

I have found just reaching out to help a few people each year, makes me feel better while I help them.

Nelsmom said it best, "if I can make one persons life a bit better than I'm happy".

 

by 1lovealways on ‎12-29-2009 03:52 AM

Another great post Paul!

 

I always wanted to save the world!  I'm sure there are a lot of you here on this board that had the same idea.  As I grew older and became more realistic, I found that wasn't possible.  I started recycling cans and paper and anything that I thought could be reused.  My heritage includes American Indian.  The Indians didn't believe in taking more from the Earth than was needed.  I try to use that in my everyday life.  Trying not to be wasteful is very important to me, not only because my ancestors believed in it, but because I do as well.

 

Growing up I was astounded by how much trash there was on the streets and on the ground.  So, I taught myself to never throw anything on the ground that wasn't put there by nature.  My nieces and nephew were taught the same.  I like to pass along things that were taught to me that have made my life better.  To me, it's just something that I can do on my part to contribute a little. 

 

I donated  to Goodwill this year and will again next year if I have anything someone can use.  While growing up, I was given clothes that someone could no longer use and they were like new to me.  So I see nothing wrong with that.

 

I have so many little kids in my family and I'm a sucker for them.  Anything to do with kids and making them happy and I'm there.  Kids require a lot of love and care, but it doesn't take much to make them happy.  I'm going to make hats, scarves and mittens as my project for the kids.  I've always wanted to do it and now that I have the time, I'm going to try it.  Of course, I haven't promised anything.  One thing you should never do is promise a child something and then don't do it.

 

"If I can make one person's life a bit better, then I'm happy."  Well said Nelsons and so very true!  That is a very good philosophy and works well for me too.  :smileyhappy:

by 1lovealways on ‎12-29-2009 03:54 AM

My apologies Nelsmom!  I misspelled your name.  :smileyhappy:

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎12-29-2009 10:28 AM

Paul as usual your articles inspire thinking and looking within oneself, not in a criticizing way, but making us believe we can accomplish anything we want. I don't do resolutions because I'm a realist enough to know that I'll probably break them, but what I do know is that each year I learn important lessons that hopefully aspires to make me a better person, meet new and interesting people wether in person or the e-variety doesn't matter, and make some small contribution to this wonderful, amazing planet we call home.

Here's hoping all of your New Year's dreams, aspirations and resolutions come to pass to all of my friends at B&N.com.

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!!!

Deb

by on ‎12-29-2009 01:34 PM

Happy New Year - Advice from a donkey  

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a
well. The animal cried piteously for hours as
the farmer tried to figure out what to do. 

Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the
well needed to be covered up anyway;
 

it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbours to come over and 
help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began
to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the
donkey realized what was happening and cried
horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he
quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally 
looked down the well. He was astonished at what
he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his
back, the donkey was doing something amazing..
He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbours continued to shovel 
dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it
off and take a step up.

Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey
stepped up over the edge of the well and
happily trotted off!
 
*****

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds 
of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well
is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of
our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out
of the deepest wells just by not stopping,
never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up. 

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:


Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.

Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.

Live simply and appreciate what you have.
 

Give more.

Expect less
 

NOW .......
 

Enough of that crap
The donkey later came back, 
and bit the farmer who had  tried to bury him. 
The gash from the bite got infected and
 
the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.
 

MORAL FROM TODAY'S LESSON:

When you do something wrong, and try to cover
your ass, it always comes back to bite you.
Here's to your best year ever! 
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