Making 2018 Matter: Will Things Work Out or Will You?

Making 2018 Matter: Will Things Work Out or Will You?

 

A new year is a pretty big deal. Irrespective of what U2 would have us believe, a lot more than the calendar year changes, or can potentially change, on New Year’s Day. It’s both an end and a beginning, a way to categorize our days and months into neat little chapters, one of the handful of markers available along the way to signpost the stories of our lives, as planets revolve around the stars and we revolve around our own constellations of work, families, and dreams.

More importantly, it’s another shot at making things right. To be the person we want to be, know we can be, but haven’t been able to become quite yet. The person who pays their bills on time, picks the salad over the tacos every time, actually goes to the gym they bought that expensive membership to last year, calls their mom, pays their dues, knows how to parallel park, knows what all the little laundry symbols on care labels mean, speaks fluent French, and takes the high road when their ex tries to come back into their instagram-perfect lives. The simple pleasures.

Sure, we could start tomorrow, or next Monday, or any day after. There’s no wrong moment to take up a new language or Google ‘laundry symbols’, but there’s definitely something significant about changing of the guard, something festive about the ball drop and the fireworks,  something reassuring about the collective excitement for a new year that infuses us with the spirit and conviction, time after time, that this time, it will be different, it will be better, it will be special.

Much like our birthdays, the new year is not just a time to close old accounts and open new ones, but also a chance to look back and reflect on the things we achieved and the lessons we learned this past year, to gently pat ourselves on the back for having made it through each day, stronger than the last if a little worse for wear, and to celebrate the heady satisfaction of survival despite odds. Are we stronger, better, wiser today than we were a year ago? Absolutely. Will we be even stronger, better, wiser a year from today? You bet.

Across cultures, it is the sense of survival as much as hope for the future that brings us close as we bake breads with coins, raise a toast, and kiss each other, thankful for another chance. It’s okay to forgive ourselves for the mistakes of the past year, to forget old grudges, and to leave behind any relics of the past we don’t want to carry anymore, the bad vibes, unhappy memories. Because here we have a chance to wipe the slate clean and start again, here is another chance to get it right. And we could all do with a second chance, or a third or a fifth or a twentieth or a thirty first chance.

And perhaps this will be that one chance we have been waiting for, to turn things around. Free of the influence of mercury in retrograde, free of toxic friends and the drama of broken relationships, free of oxidants in our body because now we start drinking green tea instead of caffeine every night. We tell ourselves this is the year we reclaim our lives and redeem ourselves, so we make our resolutions, because it is important to have goals. Do we have any control over what the future might hold? Not one bit. Can we still try and make 2018 work for us? With everything we got.

Because nothing really changes on New Year’s Day, unless we start making some changes in and around us. There’s a light that switches on in our heads as one year ends and another begins, it helps us look at the very things we have been looking at all year and the year before and the one before in a different glow, brighter and shinier, a soft glow of can-do positivity. As the days go by, the light dims slowly and switches off entirely at some point, and the brightness of can-do goes out with it, leaving behind a landscape washed in dull colours.

The salads and the gym membership don’t look as attractive any more, reaching for the tv remote feels easier than reaching out to people we are drifting away from, it’s more tempting to swipe our card at the bar than at the supermarket till the morning after, and do we really need to be able to parallel park or speak a third language to get a job?

It’s 2018. We are well into the new year now. Fidget spinners are out, pop sockets are in. No Game of Thrones till next year, but at least there’s a royal wedding to keep us engaged. Perhaps we can keep the light switched on for longer this time. Not all the way through to the end of the year necessarily, because big changes don’t happen overnight, they happen incrementally, with baby steps.

Like calling your mum randomly on your way to grab your morning coffee some day because a storefront display reminded you of her. Or finding a flyer for language classes in your mail and not throwing it away. Picking up a pack of kale chips instead of Doritos the next time you’re scouring that aisle at the supermarket. Successfully resisting the temptation to snap back when someone you left behind in 2017 tries to follow you into 2018.

Perhaps we can keep the light on this year.. and who knows if we end up discovering more than a few simple life pleasures by this time next year. Bonne chance.

By Somdutta Sarkar

(Image taken from http://www.panoprog.org/event/fireworks/)