Summer camps ended two weeks before schools started back up for the kids, so that was a scheduling runaround. Then it was high school ramp-up for the girl and fifth grade for the boy. Anyone who has spent time around me knows I call the kids “the boy” and “the girl,” but I promise they have names. School supplies, curriculum night, new teachers, new routines, homework, exams already, swim team, flag football and travel basketball soon. Work also gets hectic.
None of which is a complaint; it’s all a blessing all the time, and it’s not supposed to be easy.
The news is exhausting: serious danger from North Korea, severe weather uprooting and upending families in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean. The global migrant crisis continues unabated, with over 65 million people forced from their homes throughout the world. Families and children, parents and the elderly—all desperate for a safe place to make a life—will carry the baggage and scars for generations to come. Nations once oil-rich now cannot feed their citizens. Political turmoil threatens to upend long-established, widespread stability.
I was raised to face out towards the world, to be grounded at home but also be interested in elsewhere, to consider foreign cities accessible, and to think about other people and places as I do my own family and home. It’s wrenching, every day, to see all the events that are unfolding.
National politics is certainly exhausting. President Trump’s policy pronouncements (which sometimes turn so quickly you can get Twitter whiplash), the nonstop reporting on White House palace intrigue, and figuring out how and who get things done are enough to make you want to stay on the couch binge-watching Netflix and never leave the house. Real issues are not getting tackled, and important policies are either being rolled back or suffering from malicious neglect. Recrimination and a shocking lack of honest introspection, alongside a certain high-profile book tour, are still consuming attention that could be better focused. Reports say the American economy is strong, but clearly not all are benefiting.
But as bewildering as the above continues to be, I enjoy discussing it on TV and in print. Talking about politics and policy, elections and public personalities—having a role in explaining and framing these important issues—is a responsibility and privilege I take seriously. While we often disagree, discussions with fellow contributors in studios while waiting to go live are always cordial and usually informative. The feedback I get from columns on this page runs 80-20 positive, and half of the criticisms make good points.
New York can be exhausting. Our city never stops; our state is a national leader in trends and practices and culture and politics, but we’re always working.
City politics have taken a turn towards nearly unbearable smugness, and it’s always really tough to find a parking spot. Friends who left the area report that living elsewhere is like shedding chainmail from under your clothes: They feel so much lighter.
Still, there’s no place quite like New York. Everyone, it seems, wants to be here, and our diversity—even when it’s stressful—is exciting and dynamic. Like the Dutch before us, we do more and get more done. We’re national trendsetters because we make ourselves leaders. As Al Pacino said in City Hall, all good things flow into the city.
All of which is to say this: The holidays are again here right on time. We’re all in need of some rest and renewal. We all need a break.
I’m looking forward to some quiet reflection and starting again with a sense of newness. Already, as I write this, I feel better, remembering that everything is always unsettled, so we do the best we can.
As we turn the page to start a new year filled with promise, reflection, learning and love, I close this week’s column with this: Of anyone I may have offended, hurt or harmed knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or otherwise this past year, I ask forgiveness. To those who may have offended or harmed me in any way, I give forgiveness. Happy New Year.