My 5 year old told me today, ‘Mamma, I like this new year because I like new things’. There is something magical about something brand new. Something untouched, unadulterated. I remember the first time I held my newborn in my arms. I remember thinking that he was completely brand new. That at that moment, this bundle of joy that I was holding in my arms was the purest form of creation. But it is not really true, is it? From the time a baby is conceived, it is subjected to all kinds of external agents like prenatal vitamins, for example. It is made more and more human even before it can see the light of the outside world.
In the context of the new year, just like that Robbie Williams song, even before it arrives, we can all see it coming! We burden it with expectations, resolutions, with new hopes and aspirations and 1st January, I’m sure, feels the pressure of the 365 days ahead of it. No wonder, we fail to meet our goals and we fail to see ourselves the way we would like to. There is too much at stake. There is too much that we want and very little we are willing to change to achieve them. So, the question that I have been asking myself is this: Is something ever truly new? I believe the answer is negative.
Nothing is ever truly new
Nothing ever happens in a vacuum. There is always history– personal and social. So, no matter how much we would like to believe that a new year is actually ‘new’. It isn’t. It is just another year. Sure, we would like to turn over a new leaf and we would like to shake things up and make ammends from our past, but there is only so much (or so little) that is in our control, that a year passes by with us trying and trying and like the monkey on the flagpole, we keep sliding up and down endlessly. But then again, that is life, isn’t it? To keep trying and as we get older, we have to keep trying harder than ever. But then why is it that we think of the new year as something that is fresh and new if it is just another year?
Taking Time for granted
We treat the new year as a gift that we possess. It is handed to us at the end of the year and unlike Santa, no matter whether we were good or bad, the gift is guaranteed. This gives us hope that we have not been judged and found wanting. Like every other thing that we possess, we treat it well the first few weeks or (optimistically) months, but as the novelty of it wears off, so does all the enthusiasm and excitement. Before we know it, it is February, the 2nd month of the year and doom and gloom sets in. We fail to realize that one cannot possess Time. It just is. It moves on and on relentlessly and we are always playing catch up. It is a gift just like every new day is a gift. The sun rises and gives us another opportunity to make things right. But we make the mistake of thinking that we possess it and hence, start taking it for granted.
Every new year, the Internet and consequently, our inboxes are flooded with all ‘tricks and tips’ to find our true selves. I believe that our true selves are not ‘lost’ out there in the darkness of oblivion but simply, trapped under a mile high pile of social constructionism. Our selves are created by social and personal expectations and over time, it is constructed into something we believe to be true. It is never really lost. It is there right beneath the surface, waiting for us to take a peek into our lives. But alas, like William Henry Davies had said way back in 1911– “…we have no time to stand and stare…” We expect the New Year (as if it is an entity in itself) to help us find what we have lost. All we truly have to do, with complete honesty and sincerity is to listen. We simply need to accept and love our selves unconditionally. We need to stop dumping all kinds of negativity on it; rebuking it for being overweight, unproductive, and unsuccessful. We need to take responsibility for our lives and for all that we have become and accept that the New Year cannot help us with that.
Make it real
A new beginning is only an illusion if we do nothing about it. It can become real if we work hard to make it real. Human beings have a remarkable capacity for change; if only we decide to change the inertia and the external force required in this case, could be the hopefulness of a new year.
Godfather put it very succinctly when he said it could be any day– “Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday”. Every day was another day for business, in his case. As far as making new beginnings is concerned, the same theory applies. Any day is a good day to start. Any place is a good place to start. Let’s take Kipling’s advice and “…fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run…” Let’s focus on making each second count and the minute will take care of itself.