It’s December 31, which means the end of another year is upon us. It’s traditional to reflect upon the year that is passing, and I’ve done that. But the older I’ve gotten, the more I realize that the themes tend to be the same — because that’s just the way life is.
We’ll remember 2015 as a year when we’ve lost some loved ones, but when new family members have been added through marriage. Friends and colleagues have had good news and bad news on the personal health front. We’ve seen some family members lose their jobs, while others have achieved graduate degrees and reached new heights in their professional careers. Some doors have opened, and other doors have closed.
When you think about it, years are like that. The days when you could reach New Year’s Eve and confidently conclude that the year just ending was the best year ever, but the next year will be even better, are gone. You know there’s no predicting with certainty that the curve will move you ever upward, and when you get to a certain age, the years kind of blend together, unless they feature a marriage, or a special graduation. Who remembers much about 1998? Or 1994? Or 2003? At some point, shortly after the ball drops in Times Square, they just fade into life’s tapestry.
So 2015 probably will be viewed, in retrospect, as a year like many others. The main point is that we’ve made it to the end. At a certain point, that becomes a kind of accomplishment in itself, but the focus has to always be on what is to come.
I’ve never much cared for New Year’s Eve. My father referred to it, with humor and scorn, as “amateur night.” It’s a contrived holiday that tends to be the focus of too much partying anticipation. I can’t remember how many New Year’s Eve parties I went to during my college years, but I can remember that none of them met my ridiculously high expectations.
What’s a year, anyway? It’s a rough approximation of how long it takes for the Earth to revolve around the Sun, marked according to a calendar decreed by a long-dead Pope. Logically, calendar years mean little. They help us account for the seasons, and plan our activities, and look ahead to when we hope it will be warmer — but that’s about it.
And yet . . . years often have a consistent vibe to them, don’t they? We recall good years and bad years. We especially remember the bad years, when loved ones died or personal failures occurred or some other adversity dominated our intimate little worlds. If we’re having a bad year, we hope that the change to the calendar that arbitrarily occurs at midnight on December 31 will similarly mean a change in our fortunes. It can’t, obviously — but sometimes it does, just the same.
So, if you are having one of those bad years, I hope that your fate changes in 2013. I hope that, as that calendar page is torn away, you start to realize your personal goals and experience satisfaction in your personal lives and feel contentment with your circumstances. If you have had a good year in 2012? Well, then I just hope that calendar years are as meaningless as our rational brains dictate they must be.