all we gotta do is be brave and be kind.

On December 31st, Emily and I were talking about our hopes for the new year. Neil Gaiman inevitably found his way into the conversation. It was inevitable because, 1. Emily was talking to me, so I was most likely going to bring up Neil Gaiman, and 2. Neil Gaiman is the undisputed king of New Year’s wishes. Seriously, though… the king. You should look them up.

Emily was the first to say that she wanted to be a better version of herself this year, which meant, seizing on Gaiman’s language, being brave and kind.

“And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.”

And from another year:

“So this is my wish, a wish for me as much as it is a wish for you: in the world to come, let us be brave – let us walk into the dark without fear, and step into the unknown with smiles on our faces, even if we’re faking them. And whatever happens to us, whatever we make, whatever we learn, let us take joy in it. We can find joy in the world if it’s joy we’re looking for, we can take joy in the act of creation.

So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.”

More on joy another time, because I agree that we do most often find what we’re looking for, but for this year, I’m joining in Emily’s desire for 2015 to be a year of bravery and kindness. I’m comfortable stealing it, because she will be happy I did. Not to mention, Emily wouldn’t have been reading Neil Gaiman’s NYE wishes if I wasn’t yammering on about him all the time. Also, my love of The National lyric predates all of this:

/baby, we’ll be fine/all we gotta do is be brave and be kind/

No coincidence that the two most important creative forces in my life agree.

I want to be brave. I know I won’t stop being afraid, but I want to live anyway. Like NG says, I’ll fake my smile, hopefully just until it becomes real. I’m always stuck because I’m worried about taking the big risks and looking like an asshole when I fail. Ironically, the resulting paralysis and self-sabotage leads to failure anyway. I might as well fail in a blaze of glory, because at least that leaves the possibility of something remarkable happening.

And I want to be kind. Not nice, nice is bullshit. I do nice all the time and it is far too rarely out of kindness. My favorite line from Into the Woods was “You’re not good, you’re not bad, you’re just nice.” Being nice is amoral, the falseness we put on to make our social interactions go more smoothly. Kindness is beautiful and true. I want to be kind: doing good, inspiring happiness and pleasure, acting on my sympathy and compassion. Toward others, and with a much higher difficulty setting, toward myself.

So, there you have it, the central hope Emily and I have for 2015.