New year, new meme: Be your awesome

Jarrod Weiss - Contributing Columnist

The beginning of a new year is something of a big deal around our house. Not only do we enjoy the new year holiday and college football all over the television, but the beginning of a new year is something special for us and in reality the whole month of January is special for our family.

It all starts on New Year’s day when my wife celebrates her birthday and it just continues on from there. In addition to my wife my sister-in-law, my father-in-law, my mother-in-law, my daughter, my mother, even one of our dogs (who just passed away in November) has a birthday in January. Heck, even my birthday is in January.

What is it about the month April that makes January so busy?

As we look forward to 2016 there is a lot to hope for and New Year’s is one of those times when everyone starts to think about making changes in their lives. We have all heard the “New Year, New Me” mantra and all the resolutions that are made with the goal of bringing our lives back from the edge of disaster.

But, instead of writing the obligatory “New Year’s Resolution” article that every columnist in America pens this time of year, I am going to take a slightly different path.

While scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day I came across a great meme. Now, before I continue any further I need to decipher the term “meme”. A meme is a picture of something significant or funny that has a quote, real or not so real, written on it and it gets passed around social media.

One of my favorite memes is a portrait of President Abraham Lincoln with the quote, “The problem with quotes found on the internet is they are often not true. — Abraham Lincoln”.

Abe was so far ahead of his time.

The meme that caught my eye the other day had a picture of President Theodore Roosevelt with this quote, “Complaining without offering a solution is called whining.” This sparked my interest and since I saw that meme I have been stockpiling worthwhile memes that can benefit each one of us, and possibly humanity, with the intention of sharing them as the new year starts.

If you want to start 2016 off on the right foot, living by these memes is a roadmap to success.

Do you remember Bob Ross? The painter who illustrated to us all how to paint “happy little trees” on PBS in the afternoons? There is a meme with Bob Ross standing at an easel painting an outdoor scene with this quote, “Ever make mistakes in life? Let’s make them birds. Yeah, they’re birds now.”

We all make mistakes, and that’s OK. How we respond to those mistakes is what makes us stronger. We can either paint over them or learn from them. The choice is ours.

Another meme we should contemplate as we enter the new year is one that shows a chicken crossing a road with the quote, “I dream of a better world where a chicken can cross the road without having his motives questioned.”

2016 is proving already to be a year of contention among Americans as we enter a Presidential election. The year will be more tolerable and enjoyable if we find a way of openly discussing issues and candidates without judging the motives of everyone we disagree with. Just because people disagree doesn’t mean anyone who doesn’t conform to our point of view has some nefarious plan.

How about this one? It is a meme of four gophers standing together with the quote, “Gopher it!” This one is great not just because it is punny and simple, but because it can be so powerful. So many people have great ideas and a desire to do great things, but they never just “gopher it.” This year you need to look at your dreams and your desires and just “Gopher it!”.

Just think of Bill Murray in Caddyshack.

Finally, there is a meme with the mutli-talented Neil Patrick Harris — you will remember him as Doogie Howser M.D. and Barney in “How I Met Your Mother.” It is just a picture of NPH with the quote, “When I am sad I stop being sad and be awesome instead.”

What better mindset to start a new year than to just plan to be as awesome as you can be? Be your awesome. Not anyone else’s awesome, not an awesome that you think people want you to be, but just be your awesome.

In my classroom there is a meme on the wall. It is a picture of President Lincoln and he is posed like Uncle Sam pointing directly at you. Under the picture it says, “Whose awesome? You’re awesome.” That is what I want my students to know every day when they walk into my classroom.

As we start a new year, as we put behind us all the negative things that have happened in our lives and look forward to the future with hope and promise we must remember these memes of inspiration and wisdom.

It’s OK to make mistakes because we can learn who we are. We can disagree with one another without judging motives. We can dream and desire and just “Gopher It.” We can be as awesome as we can be and do it for no one else but ourselves.

We get to start 2016 learning from the good and the bad of 2015 and planning on the promise of awesome in the new year.

As you scroll through social media in the dawn of a new year just remember when you see something that catches your eye: “New Year, New Meme.”

Jarrod Weiss lives in New Vienna and is a teacher in the Hillsboro City Schools district. He can be reached at [email protected]

Jarrod Weiss

Contributing Columnist

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