The 2012 Scene: A Clean Slate

January is the best month of the year. A clean slate stretches out before us, waiting to be covered with the stories of 2012. All the best things haven’t happened yet – weddings, births, reunions, even the long weekends. As we hang up new calendars, June, July and August sit untouched in the middle, every single glorious summer day still far enough away to be fully anticipated, without a morsel of anxiety over how quickly they will come and go.

Speaking of births, 2012 promises to be a year of political rebirths, both federally and provincially. The issue of leadership will remain front and centre for at least the first half of the year, as both the federal Liberal and NDP parties, and here at home the Saskatchewan NDP, set about selecting the individual who will define their much-needed new Opposition identities, and pave the road out of the lackluster pits they’ve all sunk into.

On the pop culture front, movies have yet to either blow away box offices or tank spectacularly. New scandals have yet to emerge – who will be the 2012’s Charlie Sheen?  Who will get married, and who will announce their inevitable splits? How many of those scenarios will co-exist within the same month? Okay, we all know the answer to that one is any or all of the Kardashians. But we can dream. And as macabre as this may be, the question of which celebrities have rang in 2012 but for whatever untimely reason, won’t ring it out, will be answered.

Mother Nature will ultimately show up in a big way – she always does. With flooding impacting, even destroying, the homes and livelihoods of many a Saskatchewan resident, it would be awfully nice if she’d ease up on that one. The terra in our fair province is not particularly firma anymore, compared regularly to a sponge that has soaked up every last drop of moisture it’s going to take. Intense spring runoff or torrential downpours will undoubtedly send weary homeowners swashbuckling once again, so take it easy on us, will you Mama N?

As for the rest of the world, there’s no doubt she’ll have some awe-inspiring, tragic surprises for them too, which are impossible to predict. Climate-change advocates will continue to wring their hands and point at their neighbor’s SUV, while global-warming naysayers shout about at historical patterns and corrupt scientists. Let’s face it, no one really has a clue. Both the heavens and the sky will shake at will, regardless of the theories of the unfortunate souls who lie in their wake.

In his book Future Babble, Ottawa Citizen journalist Dan Gardner says that one of the ways we deal with the future’s uncertainty is to turn to the predictions of experts. Responsible, tempered forecasting is one thing, but there will always be those who rely on drama, theatrics and their personal brand to spew grandiose prophecies that they have absolutely no way of knowing will happen. The future is inherently and absolutely uncertain, that’s why it’s the future.

As news agencies pumped out their obligatory “Newsmaker/News Story of the Year” at the end of 2011, it struck me just how much our small world packs into 365 days. As time marches relentlessly on, all we can do is peer into the blank expanse before us and vow that no matter what happens – that which we can predict, and which we can’t – let us live, love and learn. That’s all I know for sure.