An opinion for the new year

J. B. Stearns

"We must plunge into experience and then reflect on the meaning of it. All reflection and no plunging drives us mad; all plunging and no reflection, and we are brutes." - Goethe

We, humans, are courageous beings.

From the moment we wake each day, we are defying the inevitability of our death, naively disregarding the dark shadow it casts upon our existence like the clock we forget is there until it stops ticking. Only then, we realize it was there with us all along, marking time, faithful to each second, minute, and hour of our lives.

Why this talk of death in the new year? Because if you're reading this, you're still alive, and that's a good thing. But it's never guaranteed.


Life only promises you death, nothing more. That's its singular promise. Not health. Not wealth. Not happiness. Not sanity. We create these things within that wiggle-room we are given between our entrance into this world and our departure from it. It's the ultimate truth. The bottom line.

So, we dive into what time we have here, repressing the knowledge that our end is death. Like a Vegas high roller, we play the odds that although our deaths are imminent, they will occur only when we're older. Certainly not tomorrow. We safely tuck this understanding into the back of our minds where the talons of awareness cannot grasp it, then place one foot in front of the other, and carry on.

What is more courageous than knowing any day could be the one in which you meet your executioner?

Nothing. Nothing is more courageous than this. Yet we still smile, dance, help, hope, cope, celebrate, and love in the face of it all.

In the coming new year, reflect on this for what it's worth. Reflect on your illimitable courage. And in those 10 seconds, when the ball drops in Times Square heralding the new year, pat yourself on the back. You've taken one more trip around the sun. You're a courageous little soldier.

Carry on.


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Writer, content creator, award-winning playwright

Holyoke, MA

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