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It was a very ‘bad’ year

 New Year’s fireworks on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janiero. The year 2016 and its Olympics were a mixed bag for Rio. Courtesy Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts.

New Year’s fireworks on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janiero. The year 2016 and its Olympics were a mixed bag for Rio. Courtesy Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts.

Well, we’ve rung out the old and rung in the new, and most of the people I’ve spoken with said it should only have happened sooner. (Or as one clever poster put it, “2016 – Y U no gone?”)

For him and others personally, professionally and publicly, 2016 was an “annus horribilis,” to borrow Queen Elizabeth II’s description of 1992 (the Charles-Diana separation, the Windsor Castle fire, don’t ask).

Certainly, 2016 would give many a year a run for their infamous money. The Zika virus, the continuing Syrian and refugee crises, terrorism, a rash of deaths among the greats of sports (Muhammad Ali) and entertainment (Prince) punctuated by the one-two punch of that sublime mother-daughter act, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher: These would’ve been enough for any annus horribilis.

But what really made this past annus truly horribilis, I think, was the meanness that infected the geopolitical climate. From Brexit to the American election – with its lies, slanders and hacked emails – there was a sense that the world had become a smaller, less inclusive place, with everyone in it for himself.

This tended to overshadow 2016’s joys, including the Chicago Cubs’ improbable World Series win – although not for Cubs’ fans. And that may be the point. Look, it’s not that we can’t objectively measure the quality of each year. But context continues to drive perception. If you were Andy Murray or an Andy fan, 2016 was a great year (a second Olympic gold and Wimbledon title, the No. 1 ranking). If you were Novak Djokovic or a Nole fan, 2016 was a mediocre, even bad year, despite a first half that saw his French Open breakthrough as champ and that capitalized on his brilliant 2015 run. Perhaps a second-half sputter was inevitable. I myself, the eternal full-speed-ahead optimist, ran out of gas in the waning days of December after a year of travel and professional highs that included a contract for “The Penalty for Holding,” the second book in my series “The Games Men Play.”

There’s no peak without a valley. But then, there’s no valley without a peak. If context drives perception, perhaps perception can tweak context, too. The year 2016 had its rewards, and I’ll let you discover them here and here.

Who knows? We might be nostalgic for them come next January. The year 2017 may be better, worse or about the same. We don’t know, and, maybe, it’s just as well. All we can do is wish for ourselves and others health and happiness, peace and prosperity.

And then go out and find the courage and strength to achieve them in the coming days.