The easy narrative is to qualify 2016 as a hellish year when nothing good happened and everything we hold dear fell apart.

True, there was what seemed like a never-ending string of celebrity deaths, a presidential campaign that seemed to bring out the worst and most extreme viewpoints, increased racial tensions, acts of terror worldwide … OK, yeah, there was a lot of bad in 2016.

Even on a more personal scale, my wife and I mourned with friends who lost parents and friends who lost a child.

Amid all of this, it would be easy to let the darker side of life consume us, to only see the bad.

But with a new year (and yes, I know, it’s an arbitrary point in time to base anything on but it’s what we got, so drop it, Mr. Nit-Picky) comes an opportunity to choose a more optimistic perspective on what’s happened and what’s to come.

The thing is, with all the bad that 2016 brought with it, personally I had a lot of bright spots:

  • Starting a new job with better pay, better hours, more security and the opportunity to travel around the country and meet great people;
  • Standing in front of Stephen King’s house in Bangor, Maine, as a black cat named Monty greeted us while I, in full fanboi mode, hoped that King himself might come driving up while this group of tourists milled about on his sidewalk;
  • Taking my wife on her bucket list trip to Paris;
  • Seeing firsthand our country’s bright future by covering Boys Nation;
  • Visiting Denver and New Orleans and Mississippi and Memphis and Boston and Des Moines, Portland, Maine, and Portland, Oregon, Seattle and D.C. and Oakland and San Diego and so many other places.

I’m blessed in that I have the option to be an optimist or a pessimist, happy or angry. And while there are plenty of terrible things happening in this world on a daily basis, I choose to try to bring a little light to the world in whatever way I can.