By Associate Editor Natalie Gates

Welcome back, VIU. Congratulations on surviving 2016, and welcome to 2017—a year with one too many syllables for my liking, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

What is it about the flip of that calendar page to January first, and the stroke of midnight on your December 31 night out, that leaves you with a tear in your eye, a smirk on your face, a kiss on your lips, butterflies in your stomach, or a drink down the hatch? While we are undoubtedly aware that the dramatic ending and beginning that collide in that moment are purely mental, social, and cultural constructions with varying objectives, I can’t deny that the impact (however minimal or deep) of the build-up, the moment, and the after effects of a brand new year, do truly exist for most of us.

As you know, 2016 took many dear global talents. From Bowie in January and Prince in April, to Muhammed Ali in June, Leonard Cohen in November, and Carrie Fisher and her mother just a couple weeks ago, it didn’t take long for people to start saying “Oh my god, another one…” as the headlines surfaced. Gord Downie’s incurable diagnosis this summer also shook Canada to its core.

Of course, I understand the impact of these celebrities and icons’ deaths, as many of them symbolized tremendous political, cultural, and social relevance. But for those of us who didn’t know them personally, we can still continue to honor the global significance they represent, be thankful for the lives they led, and not let their passings ruin our year.

It’s been a rough one for our southern neighbour, with countless major shootings and a very unlikely candidate elected president after a grueling election season. It was the hottest recorded year ever, Britain left the EU, and heart-breaking headlines from the Syrian conflict reminded us of how many people whose names we don’t know are lost violently on a daily basis.

As for the war, civilian loss, political turmoil, and many other scary things that may have happened to you personally or globally in 2016, call me an ignorant idealist, but surely there is still a reason to see the light of 2017 and look back at 2016 with some contentment. The studies tell us that the politics will only get worse, the environment will only continue to crumble—and I agree that this is all very likely—but we can also use this ending, and tangible new beginning we’ve created with the international calendar, to see the necessity of trying out new mindsets.

We very much live in a stream of consciousness dominated by the media, and the social environment which surrounds us and wills us to think and feel a certain way. The stroke of midnight on December 31 and its implications is, itself, one of those things.

Russell Brand said in one of his last videos of the year, that if you simply believe love is a real, impactful thing all people are capable of, then there is reason to be optimistic. “You have a lot more control over your own consciousness in your own reality than you can imagine,” he said.  “Try experimenting with your own beliefs. Try new ways of looking at the world.” Simple, but worth pointing out.

Whether you joined the “Fuck you, 2016” meme, whether you had a personally amazing or dreadful year, and whether 2017 frightens or excites you, look past the institution and, in the wise words of Lennon, “free your mind instead”.

Was that cheesy enough for you? Bon appétit and happy new year!

Now in her fourth and final year of a political studies major and journalism minor, Natalie has been on The Nav team for about two years. When she’s not brainstorming stories or studying, she’s usually on her yoga mat, going for a hike, listening to Springsteen, or fantasizing about what to cook for dinner.