I am not an optimist. I’m aware of the studies that say optimists live longer but only optimists really want to live longer, so that works out rather nicely.
See? Not being an optimist doesn’t mean one can’t have bright-side moments. I am, in fact, feeling uncomfortably upbeat about 2013. We’re nowhere near the gorgeous, gilt-edged decadence of the 90’s (and dear god, how I miss it) but despite trudging through some serious misery in the past decade - which I would wish on my worst enemies, - I can’t help feeling like there’s a peephole of light on the horizon and where there’s a peephole things can’t be all bad.
Last year I remember very well having more cash than spirit which means I had negative spirit. I vividly recall laying on the couch, happy to escape into movies, mostly Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s magnum opus about searching for greener pastures in golden eras. In it Gertrude Stein (played by Kathy Bates) tells the main character something that stuck with me like a tattoo: “The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.”
It’s not an optimistic quote, assuming, as it does, that you accept that existence is empty. But it’s a very optimistic quote in that it assigns you the power relieve people of that emptiness. It’s the power Dickens ascribed to Fezziwig, “the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome, a pleasure or a toil,” a power we all have “in words and looks,” in making someone laugh or feel understood, in changing their perspective with music, beauty, food or inclusion. When you’re in an emotional ditch someone trying to get you out is all it sometimes takes to get you out.
And on that note it didn’t take long that night - New Year’s Eve - to be reminded that the greatest source of the antidote is my friends. Without them I’d have none to share. So even though there was less money in 2012 they helped make it a year I’ll never forget as being far richer than many that preceded it.
The year was wildly productive, scarily meaningful and oddly redemptive. Things I’d been putting on the back burner for a decade got pissed off and demanded front burner seats. Some were too personal to discuss on the web (and yes, some things are too private to share with two billion friends) while others were meant for the world to see, like my first play, The Queen and I, my musical debut, Karaoke for Swingers and my brand new audiobook / comedy album Get Down: The Porn Diet, about discovering that pornography is, for various reasons, a pretty terrific diet aid. You can read about it here and download it here on CD Baby or purchase it from me in person (CAVEAT: it seeps adult content and is not for the prim). If you’re dieting it might lighten your burden; if you’re not it will still lighten your day.
So the bottom line is that while I’m not an optimist - I still have fears and worries about 2013 - I think this is going to be a great year. 2012 made me feel like someone who had the same phone since 1999 and just learned it takes pictures: I can’t believe I’ve been around this long and had so little idea of what’s possible. If, in my 40’s, I can still have a year that’s so transformative it’s hard not to think that there are even better things to come.
You can call it optimism. I know I’m just greedy.