New Year, new optimism

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk

Country music often speaks to me. Lyrics have always been the main part of any music I love. I want a story, a saga or something I can hold on to.

Maybe it’s because I am a writer. Maybe it’s because I am still just a country girl from a small town. Whatever the reasons behind why opera puts me to sleep and Trisha Yearwood has me humming along, I have a definite like/dislike in music genres.

Back in 2018, country singer Luke Bryant sang “I Believe Most People Are Good,” which went to No. 1 on the country charts.

The song immediately became one of my favorites – and not just because of the line “And most Mama’s ought to qualify for sainthood.” (Although I so agree!)

As 2022 dawned on Jan. 1, I felt a new hope and new optimism. My Facebook page and text messenger were filled with positive messages and warm wishes for the new year. Many acknowledged that not only had 2020 been a year of unbelievable heartache and loss – emotionally and physically – but that 2021 hadn’t been stellar either. What I appreciated and saw from many, many of my friends and family, however, was that resilient human spirit to keep on keeping on.

And I saw an underlying belief in Luke Bryant’s song philosophy: I believe most people are good.

Between Facebook and text messages, I felt a lot of optimism and hope as we entered 2022. It was a different hope and faith I had not seen last year – one that sidestepped the negativity and overwhelming worry of the past two years. I felt uplifted and vindicated in my belief in the resilience of the people I know and love.

Here are some of the messages I saw on New Year’s Eve and the next days:

“I brought in the New Year in my pajamas with my sweet dog on my lap, my husband gently snoring on the couch and two sweet boys upstairs, fast asleep. Life is full of blessings.”

“Happiness and blessings for you and your family! May 2022 bring you good health, continued friendships, much joy and a lot of FUN.”

“For the New Year, our wishes for you are that God will shower you with His blessings, fate will smile on your journey, Lady Luck will present you with riches and your Guardian Angel will keep you and all you love safe and secure.”

“For you, as a writer, I thought this was a perfect New Year wish for you: We are opening a new book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity, and it’s first chapter is New Year’s Day 2022.”

“A new year is unfolding like a blossom with petals curled tightly, concealing the beauty within. In order for your flower to bloom, surround yourself with positive people who believe in you and lift you up. Keep people in your life who make you happy, bring you peace, share your faith, make you laugh, care about your needs and love you for who you are.”

I have such great friends and family! And, on the days when the nightly news and the bad things life will throw me threaten to get me down, I have my well-worn copy of “The House at Pooh Corner,” one of the best philosophy books around.

“Piglet listened, a little nervously, to the roaring of the gale among the tree-tops.
“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?”
“Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this, and in a little while they were knocking and ringing very cheerfully at Owl’s door.”

I am ready to knock cheerfully at the door of 2022, even on blustery days, because I believe most people are good.

Happy New Year.

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons. Her newest adventure is as a travel agent with her own company, SGH Go Travel. Email her at [email protected]

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