It’s been decades since I read the Doctor Doolittle books by Hugh Lofting; certainly before Rex Harrison and Anthony Newley did the first movie version in the 1960’s, and long before Eddie Murphy got hold of them. I don’t remember how many of the series I read, but I distinctly remember one of the strange creatures that the good doctor ran into in his adventures was the Pushmi-Pullyou, an animal that resembled a llama, but instead of a rear end, it had another head at the other end, like conjoined twins. It walked about on four legs, so no matter which direction it went, it was always looking backward and forward.
That’s how I feel at the end of this calendar year – looking back over 2003 and forward to 2004. I’m writing this post from the same place I wrote a similar e-mail to a friend last year, wrapping up 2002 and looking into the new year. At that time I was excited about my new job in Miami, I was sure the country was heading into the war in Iraq, and I was wondering if John Kerry would sweep the primaries. I certainly knew of Howard Dean, and I admired him, but a year ago I thought his chances were slim. On a personal level, I was making plans to find a new place to live in Miami and possibly buy a house (didn’t happen), beginning the negotiations to buy my Mustang (that did happen), and sniffing out possibilities of getting my newest play done even as a staged reading (didn’t happen, but might this winter as long as I keep bugging the guy who promised he’d do it). Blogs were things I read, but there were only two I paid attention to; now I’m part of a great bunch of like-minded (that is, each slightly goofy and wonderfully erudite in their own way) bloggers, and looking forward with hope, passion, and zeal to do what we can from our keyboards to make this country great again, strong again, and free again.
A few things occur to me as the sun sets on the last day of this calendar year:
I am grateful for my family, my friends, and my health – none of which can be taken for granted but so often are.
I am delighted to have made so many new friends through this loose and vibrant world of blogging, especially NTodd, who, through a fortuitous post about the Florida Marlins back in October, I discovered grew up in the same small town in Ohio that I did and shared childhood friends, and who patiently showed me into the magical world of blogging. Had it not been for him, Bark Bark Woof Woof would be nothing but a bunch of comments on other peoples’ blogs (so he gets the blame, too, if you want to take it that way).
I look forward to a year when the people of this country finally wake up to the fact that our country has been slyly hijacked by people who cannot accept the fact that not everyone sees things their way and are hell-bent to bend us to their will nonetheless. If they cannot do it by persuasion, they use whatever means they can find – overturning elections, changing the rules, crying foul when hit with their own hypocrisy – and using the forces of political blackmail and intimidation to get their way. But there are signs – small, discreet, almost unnoticed – that the people are not going to allow this to continue, and if enough of them are rallied, the smug and the arrogant can be turned back.
I look forward to a year when “acceptance” and “tolerance” of gays and lesbians is not an issue – when it is as much a part of the fabric of America as any of the elements that make up this crazy quilt of a country. I’m hoping for a time when the idea of the first Constitutional amendment since Prohibiton that would restrict rights rather than bestow them is rejected out of hand. And I look forward to a time when defending marriage is defined as keeping people together, not forcing them apart.
I look forward to a time when we look to our leaders – be they state, local, or federal – for leadership, not for a punchline. I look forward to having a government that does not just govern the least but governs with only one thing in mind: the quality of life that will provide for the common good and protection, not fear and avarice.
And I look forward to a year when the most important thing I have to worry about is whether or not I’m able to do the best I can for the people I serve – the children of Miami-Dade County Public Schools – and the people I care about, and the people who care about me.
This may not happen in 2004. It may be another year. But it’s worth working for. Thanks to all of my readers, contributors, friends, and visitors for getting Bark Bark Woof Woof off the ground (Sam’s memory is glowing with joy), and I hope we’ll all be around to look forward – and back – for many years yet to come.