Thursday, December 31, 2020

"New" Year?

To turn a page on a calendar from one year to the next is often an act of hopefulness. Resolutions are made, slates are cleaned, and new beginnings are … begun. It is an opportunity, albeit an arbitrary one, to breathe deeply and recenter ourselves for what lies ahead.

This year, to turn the page on 2020 and into 2021 feels nothing short of triumphant. We made it! We are through with this most weird and miserable of years!

Of course as we do so, we have to be mindful of those who cannot make this claim. There is something rather myopic about celebrating “making it through” a year in which 1.8 million people (and counting) died in a global pandemic. There is a certain sensitivity required of us this year, a certain empathy. 

So this year we celebrate and lament simultaneously. “New Year’s Eve” 2020 includes both grief and relief. We are able to feel more than one thing at the same time, and this year we feel them all.

And this year, we are more aware of the mundane truth of this “New Year” celebration. Namely, that there is nothing magical about it. There is nothing contained in the January 2021 page of our calendars that will miraculously erase our struggles.

Nevertheless, we resolve. We persist. We recenter and take another step. Even though we know it is just an arbitrary number on a calendar page, we embrace the opportunity to become something more. Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.’”

It is a weird feeling, this knowing and hoping anyway. At times we pendulum swing toward one or the other, alternately drifting toward despair then becoming nearly giddy in the next moment. Weird, isn't it? So it goes.

And so we turn the page. Happy new year everyone! Embrace the relief and the grief, the hoping and the knowing. Let’s figure out what the next step is, and take it together.