Smart people avoid making predictions because, well, you never know what’s going to happen, right? Well, damn the torpedoes! A new year is mere days away, so as far as calling what 2022 will bring, it’s now or never.

The coming year will be one of standing tall. The last couple of years have been consumed if not characterized by whingeing — some of it with reason but much of it reflexive. Our backs and our tummies have had enough, so let’s take a deep breath and prepare for some spine-straightening relief.

2022 will be a year in which we exceed our expectations. Given how low they’ve sunk, that shouldn’t take much.

First, the virus and its various permutations: We will find a way of living with it, and possibly even defeating it. Or at least we will manage to overcome its crippling effects on our morale, our health, and our economy. Don’t ask me how; I’m not an immunologist. I just have a hunch.

At the same time, our public discourse will become more civil. We will start speaking to one another as neighbors and not as if we are crouched behind ramparts or hiding behind a screen. This is not necessarily because people will increasingly fear being punched, but rather because incivility — once refreshingly novel — has become a stale, tasteless joke.

Capital flight will continue as the IRS breathes ever harder down the necks of non-ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families, but the economy will not crater. States will begin competing with one another to create better business climates. Some will use their windfalls intelligently, but alas not all.

Counter to the dark prophesy of French soothsayer Nostradamus, we will not resort to cannibalism but we will see interesting changes in our food supply and distribution system. Our appetites will cause us to become more resourceful, and re-discover things beyond just Brussels sprouts.

In terms of fashion, people will start wearing more funny hats. As the beard craze fades, more and more of us will come to appreciate how much heat loss bare heads allow, and we will experience a renaissance of creative tops. Buffalo horns took a hit at the outset of the now-concluding year, but expect less aggressive innovations in head wear as the winter grinds on.

Real fur may see a comeback. But at the same time, people will start taking increasingly assertive animals more seriously.

We’ll see a shift in Maine hot spots as there will be more northern movement. Bangor will continue to become popular with hipsters. Some of this will trickle down to Waldo County. The Thompson Community Center in Union will surprise us somehow. And the return of Rockland’s Maine Lobster Festival will be epic.

Politically, 2022 will bring some surprises as well. Maine will see one if not two upsets in the coming November. While Gov. Janet Mills appears to be in decent shape facing reelection election (unless Tom Saviello runs in earnest, as Paul LePage just dared him to do, and brings Yes on 1 voters with him), these may manifest themselves elsewhere.

At a national level, the Democrats will lose control of Congress but — ironically — this may strengthen as opposed to further weaken President Biden’s hand. He will recall the counsel. He may heed the counsel of former President George W. Bush who said “beware the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

Camden’s effort to remove dams on the Megunticook River will hit a speed bump, but in Rockport, Stuart Smith will overcome the legal impediments to his planned hotel. Throughout Knox County, damages wrought by last Halloween’s storm and flooding will lead to new road configurations.

Finally, despite increases in broadband access across the state, our screen time will decrease slightly. Noticing the positive effects on our psyches, this trend will continue to grow into 2023.

An old professor of mine once called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “a letter to Santa Claus.” While the time for such missives has passed for a year, many of my predictions may have the same quality to them. But let’s see.

Happy New Year!

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.