Thursday, December 30, 2004
It’s funny how we humans celebrate New Year’s. Most of our celebrations are for old years—birthdays, our own and those of more prominent folks; the time years ago when a group of people may have overthrown a ruler or created an important document or something—you know, a look back at the past. New Year’s is different. Okay, on the Eve, and even to a certain extent, the days leading up to the Eve, we tend to reflect on the past year, but the holiday itself is about the future. We are celebrating the New Year.
It must be some tribute to the optimism of humans that we even celebrate such a thing as the coming new year. It’s not like the year isn’t going to come anyway, even if we ignore its entrance. We’re kind of stuck with it showing up regardless of whether or not we’ve set an extra place at the table of life, plus, it will surely hang around for at least a full year until next year, when it comes right back again.
Yet each year we enthusiastically wave off the mishaps of the past year, rejoice over the blessings, then project our dreams and expectations on the coming year. Usually, those projections are sitting in our personal hard drives, timed to dutifully Power Point themselves onto the screen of the new year. We easily forget how enthusiastic we were at the beginning of the last new year about the slide show we’ve been projecting on that same yellowing screen from New Year’s past.
Maybe that’s the key to it all. Maybe, when all is said and done (do you think there’ll really be such a time, when all is said and done. I know my ex-wife will still have a few things to say. Perhaps we should try, when a lot more has been said and done…) Maybe, when a lot more has been said and done, it is humans’ ability to shrug off the worst imaginable circumstances that keep us coming back for those New Year’s celebrations. It’s like we all get a clean slate at midnight, December 31, every year.
Even the way we celebrate parallels that philosophy. We spend New Year’s Eve at some type of party where we are almost assuredly guaranteed to overindulge in drinking, eating, partying and any other “-ings” we happen upon, all the time in a mental state of erasing the blackboards in our brains. On New Year’s Eve, no one pays any attention to any signals emanating from their mind other than the ones related to going nuts. Folks who don’t actually go partying, as well as the ones who go but maintain a sense of decorum, are fighting their natural tendencies.
On the morning of the following day—the New Year’s Day—we moan our pledges of resolution. That’s an interesting word, resolution. Without looking up its origins, it obviously is easily broken down into re-solution. That’s pretty cool. I screwed up the first solution, or I wasn’t happy with the first solution, so I’m gonna try a re-solution. A big do-over. Another great human invention.
The way I see it (hide the children), we pretty much have a free ride all year to do just about whatever the bleep we want to (again, totally dependent upon the particular human societal groupings we happen to live in), knowing full well that come New Year’s Eve, we’re gonna be erasing our brains and starting fresh in the new year.
How powerful, the voodoo of this phenomenon. We all live it. We all feel it. I’ll bet even inmates on death row (Hi, Scott) get that giddy sense of renewal as the clock strikes two hands straight up and that big ball’s a-dropping. If any of you happen to be on death row somewhere and you’re reading this, do me a favor and take a quick (since your time is limited) informal poll of your fellow rowers (is there a coxswain on death row?) to see if they all have that same feeling of hope and renewal. Thanks.
I contend they do, just like all the rest of us. Which brings us to us. There sure are a lot of us’s around this crazy rocket ship we call Earth. If you close your eyes (not now, you won’t be able to read the rest of this) and contemplate what we know of life as it exists around the world, it is fascinating to imagine what resolutions people from all walks of humanity are projecting upon their lives’ screens. Imagine how fundamentally different the resolutions of those readers of this very column (all three of you) are, and we live in the same neighborhood—relatively speaking. Think how drastically different the resolutions of the world’s humans must be.
Maybe not so different at all. Maybe, when all is mostly said and done, everybody is essentially looking for the same basic things: food, clothing and shelter—which, to varying degrees, are either assumed, or a life and death struggle; a sense of purpose, of self worth—again, varies so much from person to person; and, most importantly, love. It always comes back to the love. Everybody responds to love, everybody. And everybody’s resolutions are underwritten by love, regardless of what format their personal computer is communicating in.
Extrapolate life on Earth should the New Year’s resolutions of all our fellow earthlings actually come to pass. Sure there might be a few psychos around whose twisted systems spit out abhorrent thoughts and actions, but they’d be so in the minority as to render themselves completely irrelevant.
I personally can’t wait for the coming new year with all its re-solutions. I know I’ll be pushing the right buttons this time around. I can barely remember what it was that seemed so bad about last year. And I know all of you out there are feeling the same way. Now if I can just figure out how to get this wire cage off the top of this beautiful bottle…I just know my life is gonna change. Happy New Year.