Ladies, gentlehumans and visiting lifeforms, in this, the second week of 2018, I offer up stream of consciousness piece on New Year’s resolutions, symbolism and how, in life, the attempt is often more important than the outcome.
So this is it: 2018. The coming of a new year means different things to different humans. Some consider it a time for introspection, a chance to ponder over the previous 365 days and make decisions about their future. Some use the time to create personal resolutions, such as ditching junk food and making more time for family, or ditching family and making more time for junk food as the case may be. Of course there is another group, a collection of souls who consider the entire idea of introspection around New Year’s to be foolish and pointless, assumedly because their lives are so absolutely perfect and above reproach that such nonsensical navel-gazing becomes a study in absurdity.
The transition from one year to the next is of course an entirely man-made concept. For the universe at large, it’s not January 2018. For all we know, in other places in our big beautiful Universe it could be called “Tangerine 657” or “Murray.” The entire construct depends on the movement of one planet, from one perspective, and an entirely arbitrary dating system whose beginning or anchor-point is open to much (rather heated) debate. Therefore the shift from one year to the next is largely symbolic, and on such symbols our world is built.
With this in mind, it would be easy to dismiss New Year’s or any other date as meaningless due to their man-made nature, but I think this logic is badly flawed. Take for example the complaint that Valentine’s Day is a “made-up” holiday dreamed up by greeting card companies. First of all, ALL holidays are “made-up.” None of them were carved into the fabric of the universe. As well, even a cursory amount of research (a habit as endangered as many of the world’s species) shows that the holiday was not created by greeting card companies at all, unless you believe that Hallmark existed in 15th century England.
Yes, the changing of the year is a symbolic gesture, but that makes it no less significant. It represents a desire to learn from our mistakes and create a better future. Our inability (or more often unwillingness) to look back at our actions and determine what worked and what didn’t is the primary reason we keep making those same mistakes every single year.
As George Santayana so famously said, and many have so infamously misquoted, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
We see the evidence of this each and every day.
As I said, there are those who criticize the idea of introspection. Those same delightful folks will also often criticize those who make New Year’s resolutions, claiming that “they never work, because no one sticks to them.” It’s absolutely true that many human-shaped humans will make a great many well-meaning resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, dismantle and degrade the entire edifice of democracy, human decency and even proper grammar, etc. and many of those people will fail to follow through. However I think the naysayers are missing a vital point: No matter how many times a person tries to follow a New Year’s resolution and fails, [at least they tried.] Failed attempts are far more valuable than actionless criticism. In the end, cynicism requires no courage.
At this point you may be wondering if I have any resolutions for the coming year. I have targets, not resolutions. The choice of word is important, as a target is a measurable thing, while a resolution seems to me to be… a little less precise. One of those targets involves the very same kind of erudite hieroglyphics and literary effluvia with which you are currently enjoying.
As we make our way out of the dawn of the new year and into the year proper, I hope that each of you finds happiness, joy and success. Most of all, I hope you try everything. AT the very least, you’ll learn something.
Have a happy and prosperous “Murray!” (Or “Tangerine 657” if you’re into that.)