Wednesday, December 30, 2015

December 30, 2015

On this day every year, my father-in-law was fond of telling his grandchildren, “If you go to the corner store, you’ll see a man there with as many noses on his face as there are days left in the year!”

Silliness often abounds at this time of the year, doesn’t it? There’s something about the approaching New Year that makes us cut loose a little more than usual. Celebrating the end to the old year, and a beginning for the new—giving this time its own special traditions—seems to answer a need that lies deep in the heart of humankind.

It’s a need I believe is as natural to us as is breathing. Just as there is a springtime each year, and with it a renewal of life—trees bud again, flowers poke their leafy green above the ground and critters are born—this need for a new beginning has been bred into us. And it’s defined, in this day and age, by our celebration of the arrival of the New Year.

At no other time do we count down the seconds to the dawn of a new day.

Graphically, we picture the year that is ending as an old man with a long, white beard, needing the assistance of a staff to walk, as he hobbles on his way, out of sight. In contrast, the New Year is depicted as a newborn baby—innocent, and sweet and fresh.

This is the time of year for those lovely end-of-year lists—the lists of milestones achieved, the top one hundred songs and movies, and of course, the list of those renowned public figures who passed away. We seem to need those lists, to be able to categorize and organize all we’ve experienced in the year just ending.

But this time of the year is about more than looking back. I think mainly, it’s about looking forward. At no other time of the year do people feel as much hope, or embrace the possibilities, as they do on New Year’s Eve. This is the time of year we take stock of our lives and our circumstances, review the past twelve months, and for some of us, make resolutions for the year to come. We start over fresh from here. We resolve to do better.

Everything is new again.

This is closure at its finest. Some of us have had a rough year. You only have to tune in to people, to listen when you’re at the mall, or to surf around FaceBook to have some examples of this reaction. “I won’t be sorry to see the end of this year!” is a common sentiment. “Good riddance to 2015; come on, 2016!”

Most of us have hope, we can’t help it. Because we’re presented with a new beginning, we dare to dream that it can actually be one. This is going to be the year I finally get my act together; this is going to be the year I have my break out moment. This is going to be the year!

It’s not logical. From one moment to the next, there really is no difference, not in any measurable way. There’s no physical change, no specific event. It’s all perspective. If you’re alone, outside in a rural area, say, then the dawn of the brand new year arrives without fanfare, and completely unnoticed. If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s no one there to hear it, is it still “Happy New Year!”?

We only have our own perspectives in this life, and since we also have emotions, those nebulous things that are illogical and esthetic, why not make positive use of them? Why not recognize one particular moment as a new beginning?

So shut away 2015 and all the negative and hurtful memories you may have of it; then turn and face the coming dawn, and know that you can start over right now—and more, that this new year can be whatever you make it to be.


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