T.S. Eliot wrote the words found in the title of this article in his poem “Little Gidding,” about time, perspective, and human salvation. It seems only fitting to herald the end of 2016 not as a year passed in celebration, but as the beginning of a new year, lest some of us shoot ourselves in the face while looking back at what a year it was. Because, really, 2016 kind of kicked us in the collective nuts, much like the ISIS guys did to each other in that training video (see above).

For what can you say about 2016? It has been one of those years that seems, on balance, to have been more bad times than good, and less heaven than stairway (Zeppelin references this week are inspired by BK himself). We lost about a million public figures in 2016 to disease and age. We saw the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union. We saw the election of populist leaders all over the world (it seemed). We saw the continuing collapse of the Syrian state, and the resulting death and destruction that continues to accompany it.

We also saw an election here at home that marked the end of one political party’s dominance, and the start of a new era that might be dominated by a whole new movement. It was a year of change, to say the least. Let us count the ways.

Rest in peace

“Every man’s life ends the same way,” is what we have been told by Ernest Hemingway, but did they all have to end in the same year? It is like God surveyed heaven this past year and said to himself, “Well Me-damned, I need to bring some talent up here to entertain Me.”

Thus spoketh the Lord, and thus was taken from us George Michael, David Bowie, Prince, Mohammad Ali, Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, Gary Shandling, George Kennedy, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Doris Roberts, Florence Henderson, Glenn Frey, Merle Haggard, Alan Thicke, Leon Russel, Patty Duke, Umberto Eco, Kimbo Slice, Harper Lee, Arnold Palmer, Pat Conroy, Gordie Howe, Hans Gruber/Severus Snape, Admiral Ackbar, Princess Leia, and R2-freaking-D2, for Christ’s sake.

Are you kidding me? That is one impressive haul of artistic and athletic talent to be called out for the final curtain. Couldn’t God have had mercy, and at least spared Carrie Fisher or R2D2 until 2017? Sheesh.

That was not all, either. God was not done in simply robbing us of entertainers and artists. So as not to leave the celebrity talent without a heavenly audience, His High Holiness also put out the call for some leading figures from public life, as well. Thus we lost John Glenn, Nancy Reagan, Antonin Scalia, Gwen Ifill, John McLaughlin, John Saunders, Craig Sager, Elie Wiesel, Morely Safer, and Shimon Peres. It might be safe to say, though, that John Glenn arrived in heaven, surveyed the area, and proclaimed he had made it closer than any of the others prior to his actual arrival at the pearly gates.

Also, so as to not leave the Devil in a lonely frame, God also apparently thought, “Hmm, things down in Hell seem boring these days,” and He went ahead and sent Fidel Castro down to keep the Devil company. Cigars, anyone?