The New Year

Years and years ago I spent a late December night with a couple of friends, having a few beers and watching TV or some such thing, and at some point in the evening one of them made a pretty caustic and disillusioned comment about the approaching new year, something to the effect of how we’ll wake up on New Year’s Day and not actually start anything fresh or do anything new, that it’s a day like any other day.

There is truth to that, of course – as human beings we assign significance and meaning to certain days and times as we see fit – but I remember feeling diminished and saddened by the remark back then, because I’d just been thinking about my hopes for the new year. Those hopes weren’t realized then or anytime soon, but still, I’d been feeling them in that moment, and artificially constructed or not, the concept of starting anew with the turn of the calendar helped me experience that feeling. I need that kind of help sometimes, you know what I mean? I suspect most (if not all) of us do.

New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, birthdays, solstices, and so on and so forth – it’s entirely possible to strip the symbolism and deliberately constructed meaning from these events and treat them like any other day. I myself am cynicism personified when it comes to Valentine’s Day, for example. I think there’s value in these days of celebration and reflection, though. Sometimes we need help remembering how to be grateful, expressing love and affection, reflecting on the joys and hardships of the past, and declaring our hopes for the future. Sometimes we need to be reminded why and how important those acts are.

2014 was a fully-lived year for me. I had moments of terrible fear, and moments of incandescent joy. I witnessed things that made me despair for the future of humanity, and other things that made me so fiercely proud of the people in my life that I could have burst. I had to cope with discouraging setbacks, and I made more than one quantum leap forward. I continued to have the stunning experience of meeting new people who’ve become cherished, beloved presences in my life. Happy New Year, my friends. You mean so much to me. Let’s see what 2015 holds for us. Let’s move forward into the new year, together.

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