First published on www.ranjanmukherjee.com

It is the end of December. I look outside and the lawn and trees are covered with a fresh dusting of snow. It is quiet and peaceful. I fancy I am a tracker from the time when hominids clad in animal skins would hunt grasping nothing more lethal than a flint topped spear or axe. I go out looking for deer, rabbit and fox tracks in the snow.

Nah. Who are we kidding?

We have not seen a hint of snow in south-eastern Pennsylvania this time of the year. It most certainly has not been a white Christmas. On the contrary, the weather has been positively balmy, on certain days hitting 60 °F. The grass seeds I had scattered on the bare patches of my lawn in November are now two inches tall and blending well with their neighbors thanks to the unseasonable temperatures and occasional rain. Is it because the world is warming or cooling? I know what the scientists say but there are those who argue that there is no evidence of human induced global warming. Please, will someone gently pull their heads out of the sand!

But I digress. This article is about saying goodbye to 2016 and welcoming in the New Year.

2016 has been eventful. Unemployment has been at a record low, the stock market at a record high. We had a presidential election where quirks of personalities mattered more than a serious discussion on substantive issues. The thin line between fake news and real news disappeared. We turned to comedy channels in earnest for real news and some genuine moments of relief. We are all relieved that this is over. Now we have to face up to the consequences of Russian cyber-hacking and Chinese ‘in your face’ confiscation of an unmanned US underwater drone.

With the New Year comes the inevitable list of resolutions. Here is just one suggestion (I kept it to only one so we could all concentrate and get it done)

  1. Spend more time with family and friends. To do that, let’s spend less time on the stupid (not smart) phone. When you are talking, look at the person in the eye and talk. When walking, look at the road and walk. Don’t hold the phone in front of your eyes all the time. It is not an appendage, an extension of your palm. Keep it in your pocket till it is needed. The funniest thing I read in 2016 is that a large number of people use their phones in bed during sex. Think about it. Does it add or detract from the experience? Perhaps they are Googling for instructions or help! But the instruction part is best done before it is needed.

 Whatever happens, life will go on and it is up to us to make it better. At midnight on December 31, I raised a toast to the New Year.