“There are two kinds of fools: One says, ‘This is old, therefore it is good.’ The other one says, ‘This is new, therefore it is better.’” — W.R. Inge (1860-1954), Dean of St. Paul’s, London
I don’t celebrate most holidays, but I like New Years. If offers the perfect mix of regret* and hope; nostalgia and anticipation.
I like the idea of so many people turning the page on the calendar at the same time. I like illusion of the fresh start. I like the bravery of waking up in a new year. I like it when someone with a corny sense of humor says they’re taking the rest of the year off on Dec. 31. I like that we’re all very slow time travelers.
I like reading ridiculous newspaper articles about the trends and events that will drive the year ahead, as if history had an itinerary. I like retrospectives of things I just lived through, because they make me feel superior for paying attention. I like retrospectives of things I didn’t know about until just now, because they make me feel realized that I got in under the wire. I like the way all the media I’ve bought in the last year now have a sudden vintage feel because they were produced “last year” — even if they’re on a few weeks old.
I like the banality of most New Years’ resolutions** — I will lose the weight this year, I will get organized, I stop smoking. I like the lotteryesque optimism that we’ll be one of the handful of people who actually do the things we promise ourselves on New Years. I like the little shrug a smoker who wanted to quit will give you when you catch them puffing away on MLK Day. I like the one person everyone knows who woke up one Jan. 1 and actually did change their life. I like how that person always acts as if it wasn’t a big deal.
I like good luck charms. I like omens and signs and portents. I like trying to guess what’s coming — rattling the present for the tell-tale jangle that tells me what I’m about to open up. I like knowing I’m wrong. I like that the future in front of me is weirder than the one in my head.
I like looking over my shoulder and seeing more good memories than bad in the past year, because I know it’s not always going to be that way. I like listening to Long December and thinking about how far away 1996 is and feeling relieved that it’s never coming back. I like the little pang of loss for all the important things I meant to do last year and the comfort of putting all of last year’s screw-ups behind me. I like the forgiveness of sins and the life of the world to come.
*If you’re still one of those people who thinks it’s better to regret something you did than something you didn’t do, just wait until you’ve done more things. The delusion passes eventually.
** I always have the same one: Write more for me and less for The Man. Blogging helps with that. A little. I think.