Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 22, No. 35, Ed. 1 Friday, January 13, 2006 Page: 28 of 60
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Giving themes to years adds significance to life
Evaluating life experiences during specific time periods helps people
make sense of the ups and downs of their complicated lives
Someone I know believes that
all years have themes. Last year
was her Year of Transition. This
one, 2006, will be her Year of
How she knows this already is
hard to tell.
But I like the idea of summing
up a year in themes. Maybe it
makes tough years easier to deal
with if you can just tell yourself,
"Well, sure that was a hard year
— but that was the Year of
Darkness, after all. It was meant
to be hard."
Or, instead of lamenting the end of a string of
good luck, you can tell yourself, "Hey, that was
the Year of Glory. It probably won't happen
again for a while, but I sure am happy that I have
it to remember."
Themes seem more solid than just memories
of events. They seem like things you can actual-
ly put in your pocket, stones you can rub every
now and again for the cheery or melancholy
Events are so transient. They come, they go.
Once they're over, sometimes it's hard to recall
the reality of them. Did that actually happen?, we
ask ourselves. Was I really there? Was she? Did I
say that? We forget details. We rearrange the
order. The facts become impossible to remember.
They float away.
But themes — themes have weight. Gravity.
Themes are universal precisely because they
touch on the deeply personal, the deeply human
that is common to all of us. They are the things
that anchor the nets of creativity, the things that
make the arts — even the most ephemeral or
abstract arts — move us, satiate us. Themes are
why epics resonate and why we tell stories.
I think we like themes because we like to
understand things, and themes are maps to under-
standing. We know how tragic romances end. We
know what happens when the hero finally dis-
covers his true strengths and marches forward
with courage. We know what happens when we,
like Lot's wife, can't help but fix our eyes on the
burning past instead of the uncertain future.
Themes tell a truth. They note consequences
and inevitabilities. They don't judge—well, not
always. They don't imply ending, just resolution
of some sort, good or bad.
And they reassure us that
what's happening to us happens
Oh, maybe not the specifics.
Not every David uses a slingshot
to bring down Goliath. Not every
Cinderella gets a prince as a
reward for her inner goodness.
Not every hero's fatal flaw is his
Achilles' tendon. Yet we've all
triumphed over those more pow-
erful than us; we've all gotten
something for being good; we've
all fallen because of flaws we can't control.
Themes elevate regular people into myth.
Life can be so banal sometimes. So much of it
is so small. We come home from work. We feed
the cats. We watch TV. We fight with our sib-
lings. We vacuum the carpet. We whine. We sulk.
We wallow in everyday unhappiness. When
faced with life changing decisions, we hesitate.
We struggle for months to decide whether to
switch jobs or girlfriends. We can't imagine
releasing what we have, no matter how soul
killing, in order to leap toward something else.
When we finally make a decision, we can
lament the lost time, or we can focus on themes.
We can tell ourselves: Ah ha! But that was my
Year of Transition! So of course I was struggling!
We tell ourselves this and then we let ourselves
settle into our ordinary lives, because suddenly,
our ordinary lives seem important, mythic.
Unlike my friend, though I don't think we can
find themes in advance. We can't predict what's
going to happen to us. We can't declare the
course our lives will take.
We may think this year will simply be one of
adjustment — until we're faced with more
change than we expected. We may think that this
year will be one of grief — until we're blessed
with unexpected good fortune and joy.
It is this very unpredictability that leads us to
celebrate the New Year. It is the excitement of
continuing to knit our own stories, to discover all
the new ways our favorite themes play out in our
Every year, we will make mistakes. We know
that. We will hurt people we love. We will under-
cut ourselves, we will falter, we will be coward-
ly instead of brave. But those exact flaws are
what make the greatest themes possible.
Because in the New Year, we know, we will
also help something or someone grow. And we
will love more deeply than we had before. And
we will conquer something, unexpectedly.
Themes show us that there is more to life than
our daily good and bad. There are patterns. And
when we can interpret them and put words to
them, then they can help us make sense of our
very messy lives.
Jennifer Vanasco is an award-winning colum-
nist for the Chicago Ftee Press, a ga\> and les-
Pharmaceutical industry prefers
cheerleader-types for sales jobs
meaning to a
cussed how the
leaders as its
ask what the major is," T. Lynn Williamson, a
cheering advisor for University of Kentucky,
said of the drug companies who turn to the
school to find pompom pill pushers.
Of course, the pharmaceutical giants would
have us believe it's coincidental that their reps
look like runway models. Lambert Amoretti, a
spokesperson for Bristol-Myers Squibb said that
hiring cheerleaders "has nothing to do with
looks, it's the personality."
Anything But Straight
"I think what happened was that the
Texas Republican Party got scared
because they saw me as actually
having a chance of winning Austin and
of winning the election."
Bdward Mokrzy, a,gay candidte for U.S. Congress,.
;about his concern that Republican Party leaders,
do not want openly gay Republicans winnning;
"This dog dances at the vet, she
dances everywhere, and then she got
up there. Bless her heart, she was just
Dallas resident Jackie Ross; co-owner of Jada the
Dancing Poodle; about the dog's failure to perform
On "The David fetterman Show"
"They created the most negative
feelings toward the Legislature in
years, and that is beneficial to the
Michael Moon, president of
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas,
on how failures by Republican
legislators, have opened the door
for Democrats to win seats.
28 I dallasvoice.com I 0.1.13.06
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Vercher, Dennis. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 22, No. 35, Ed. 1 Friday, January 13, 2006, newspaper, January 13, 2006; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth238891/m1/28/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.