Here it is: another new year, a chance to wipe the slate clean. With this surely comes a resolution (or an anti-resolution for all of you pessimistic types). Hopefully, you’ve given this opportunity some thought and not assigned the over popularized and mundane “quit smoking” or “lose weight” New Year’s goals. Perfectly healthy aspirations as they may be, they lack creativity and need I mention they’re doomed to fail? When we make a resolution, we formally express our determination. There are few times we are resolute and unwavering on an issue. How many of these times do we actually declare our viewpoint? It makes sense then, that when we break our New Year’s resolutions negative Jiminy Cricket reminds us of what losers we are and how we don’t keep our word. We take ourselves a little less seriously with each falter. Perhaps choosing a New Year’s theme or focus would be a better option.
I see New Year’s Eve as a giant, unstoppable clock. As it gets closer to midnight, as the countdown begins, there is a moment when the seconds seem to speed up. We wait all night and then those final 10 seconds of the year are gone in a flash. We blink and we miss its passing. It feels like the top of the hill on a roller coaster. We become acutely aware that there is no getting off the ride and that we are not driving the car, so we watch wide-eyed at the descent. In hindsight, we can freeze the moment when 2010 passed into 2011. We can hear the exaggerated clicking of the second hand stop mid-travel. Our 2010 lives flash before our eyes and we step, ready or not, into the unknown of the 2011.
For ages, others have felt the same way, thus the quintessential song Auld Lang Syne. This Scottish song, credited to Robert Burns in the 1700’s, literally translates to Old Long Since. Its melancholy tune is somehow comforting and appropriate on New Year’s. I don’t feel the transition is real until I hear it, whether in a bar sung by drunken amateurs or playing in the background of Time Square via NBC. It is bittersweet, just like life. The song asks us to examine our lives without dwelling on any of it. It reminds us to be welcoming and look to the future. It asks us not to let time and distance erase what’s important. It encourages us to live the present moment to its fullest.
Why wait to check in with ourselves until December 31st each year? Why make hesitant, often hasty and typically lofty promises at all? If we take our fingers out of our ears, pause before acting and consider all angles before making judgments, we are capable of introspection year round. Whether we aim to break a bad habit or to incorporate more positivity into our lives, awareness is the starting point. Aim to be more aware this year and you’ll be better for it. Cheers.