What's New About it, Anyway?

New York glitters with lights. Store fronts fill with snow scenes. Evergreens huddle in bazaars, waiting to be sold. All of us have but a few weeks left till we take a big breath (or a drink) and count down to that magical, fresh, new start. And we’ll likely be very happy, giving out hugs and kisses. Some of us will dance or chat the night away, milking the last remaining hours of the party before it becomes history. Finally, we’ll find where to put down our heads and we’ll shut our eyes in a desperate attempt to stop the room from spinning. And, just before surrendering to the first sleep of the New Year, we will resolve (consciously or not) to do less of everything that’s bad for us and more of everything that ought to make us better. We will promise to start projects we've planned and finish those we've already started. We will vow to fix, revive, and renew all things rusty and “off” about ourselves, because come tomorrow it’s a fresh start.

We adore newness even when the calendar has nothing to do with it. We crave information and plan fresh experiences. It excites us to meet people and we dive into new relationships. We move ourselves to new homes and buy ourselves new things. We change our appearances and our ways. We look to these changes to erase past mistakes, to cure insecurities, and to smooth over embarrassments. We hope that putting on a new label might change the contents—we re-package and re-invent the way we've always been.

But information becomes stale, experiences end, and relationships evolve. Our hair color fades, our clothes rip and stain. Inevitably, what was once so shiny and promising joins the ranks of familiar and ordinary, leaving us back with our personalities, baggage intact. And each New Year’s ends too, regardless of the expectations we place on its sparkling shoulders. Lost in our preparations, celebrations, and expectations we omit to regard it for it is—a date on the calendar, a notation—a marker for something ongoing. Nothing stops and begins again on this date.

Not being one to shy away from a party, I don’t advocate turning in early because it’s “just another day”. I merely suggest that we view the coming of the New Year with less hope and expectation. Instead of looking to what will happen in the future, we can celebrate the year that has already past. When else can we take a moment to celebrate everything we've already accomplished, everyone we've already met? When else can we stop and recall what we've learned, respect what we've worked on? When else can we acknowledge the actions and sentiments around us that have helped to form who we are?

Let’s face it: we won’t see a new person in the mirror on the first day of the year—our past (both the good and the bad) will wake up with us. So, we might as well make room for it.

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