I am not the type of person who cares for events – things like religious festivals celebrating long lost, outmoded traditions and rituals, capitalist mercenary nonsense like Hallmark holidays or even personal milestones like birthdays and anniversaries. To me, these are all artificial in one way or another and thus don’t mean much to me.
The one event that I do give some thought to is New Years. Yes, it is in one sense as artificial as others (Neil DeGrasse Tyson has already tweeted for the millionth time that is has no scientific significance) and has absolutely nothing to do with my life specifically. However I look past this as dates are a very important part of what we are and what we do in our lives because they put a timeline to them. Major memorable life events hold meaning only in context and the date gives a large part of that context for it helps us link the various threads of our lives – personal, familial, financial situations at a particular time – which directly drive many of our actions. Breaking up one’s life into the larger component of dates – i.e. calendar years is both intuitively sensible and also goes easy on the memory. The artificial ending and starting of “years” allows us to break our life into easy to use compartments. This is not true of birthdays as we all have different birthdays – comparing lives and where our lives intersect with others on a common scale makes a lot more sense. So while New Years is artificial, it makes sense, and that is worth something.
I am fundamentally a person who craves for progress, and also holds lofty aims of continual self-awareness and self-improvement. I see value in my life in terms of skills added, work done, knowledge gained, experiences collected and to some extent, albeit a small extent, money earned and thus security ensured. And this craving is what really drives my liking this artificial construct of a “year” and by extension the New Year.
Like most people, I too go through the charade of resolutions every year. But mine are nearly always variants of the same things – read more, travel more, listen more, watch more, consume more, know more – for the most part can be summarised as “be better at everything than you are now”. Being better is something of an obligation to myself. The real interest is in what way I need to be different. For me, New Years is a day to look back and see where I fucked up. And identify why it happen. And thus what needs to change. It causes me significant misery every year when the extent of my lapses truly hits me – but this is exactly where the real value of New Years lies, for we cannot fix what we don’t identify as a problem.
‘Be the best version of yourself’ is a trite cliche. But its also an appropriate note on which to end this post. Happy New Year.