New Year. New Me?

It’s just another day. Nothing special. Cynics of New Year celebrations always repeat this statement whenever the proverbial curtain is about to be lowered on the year. In all honesty, there is a lot of truth in that statement. Because when you think about it, there is nothing different about 1st January 1, 2018. Maybe the weather is a bit colder than it was on 31st December, 2017 but that is a function of the harmattan getting stronger. 1st January seems a lot like a product of the capitalist system schemed to promote the sale of firecrackers and to those who drink, more booze. There is nothing new about the new year save for a new date.

It is true that we do not really get a fresh beginning on the 1st of January. Our debts are not magically forgiven when the hour hand ticks to the number 12 on the clock and neither do we wish away any heartbreak or disappointment from the previous years. But it is also true that the New Year fills us with some sense of renewal.

Humans like a restart. We know how messed up we are so we always look for a chance to start afresh. Even our religions run on that. In Islam for instance, Allah constantly reminds us of how forgiving He is and that we should never doubt how expansive His mercy is. The idea behind this is to tell us we can always start afresh. When we sin, He is ever ready to give us a chance to be sinless so long as we ask Him. When people disappoint others, they ask for second chances to make things right. We know how hard it is to continue the existing relationship while the thought of the disappointment still lingers on. So we ask the other person to forgive and forget. Essentially, they ask for a new start.

That is how come people are so invested in the New Year. We understand how much we have messed up over the past year. The bridges we burnt, the lies we told, the sins we committed, the failures we encountered, the losses we sustained and the many other events we wish had never happened. In the immediate aftermath of these events, we try to move past it. After the shedding of tears and blowing of noses in handkerchiefs, we tell ourselves that we will move on. But moving on is hard. So when the New Year comes, it somehow symbolizes a fresh page. Because our lives are structured around the construct of a calendar year, 1st January signifies a momentous start. Its symbolism is that everything that happened over the past year belongs to the past year.

It is like having a page filled with errors and cancellations and turning over to a fresh new page which is yet to be traversed upon with ink. You are filled with excitement about the possibilities that can be visited upon that page. Before your pencil touches that page, you are no different from Picasso or Da Vinci. It is that rush of possibilities that gets people excited about the new year.

Of course if the previous page had a paragraph that had not yet been completed, it still affects whatever is going to be on the new page. Every single one of our lives is a paragraph that is yet to see its end so you might say that turning over that new page does not really matter. But seeing a page that has no ink fills you up with expectations that are different from writing on a page that has red marks cancelling through earlier paragraphs.

The New Year does not necessarily come with a new you. But it symbolically presents itself as an opportunity for you to work towards a new you. Yes, you could and probably should work on bettering the paragraph as you go along the lines in the page but if you find yourself on a new page, then go ahead and better that paragraph that is key to the story of your life!

Happy New Year!

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