The New Year and other fables (1998)

New Year's Eve and Day have always been fascinating to me. I even have a novel started (as yet unfinished) set to take place in one full New Year's day. So many changes are set for the new year, from taxation to resolutions and many more. With the millenium bug about to hit our computer systems in two years, some even fear the new year. It is somewhat amusing to me that we need this artificial barrier between years, but I see the need and have no intention of calling for the ablolishment of the holiday.

Out with the old, in with the new. Well, what really is the difference between one year and the next? The seconds before and after seem no different from each other. What distinguishes the two years (and soon to be millenia) is our beliefs. We treat the new year differently, so it is different. A fresh new start, we think. So it is. Our entire calender system is based on the belief that everyone else is using the same system, making common our time references. This is a good belief for its fascilitating communication.

Not all beliefs are created equal. What we believe about the way to fill our next year is much more important. To many, the new year is a time to be productive. The new year is an opportunity to live. To others, it is the same drudgery, year after year. That belief becomes self fulfilling.

Many make resolutions at this time of year. That is good. I used to hate goals and resolutions, because they all seemed so . . . petty. I don't know how to describe how I felt. It seemed to my younger self that goal-oriented people were fools because they were restricting themselves to foolish pursuits. I have changed my ways, because I independently learned to pursue goals myself. My method is a lot looser than that of others, but that is my particular style of living. My thinking and goals are flexible and adaptable, but I don't compromise either.

In setting goals, ask yourself what is really important to you. If they really are important to you, you will chase after them anyway, but this way, you are formally stating it in your mind. Be realistic. Dream big, have high hopes, but realize that it all takes time. Don't beat yourself up over failures. Learn from mistakes and continue on your way. Writing down your goals and resolutions really does make a difference.

None of that advice is original to me, but I repeat it with a reason. Emphasis. Now I must ask, "why do we only make resolutions at the new year?" Can we not do it any time of year? In March, if you find yourself unable to budget your time, are you going to wait until next December 31st to make a resolution? I hope not. Be flexible in your thinking. Often, we are told to keep the spirit of Christmas with us throughout the year. The same should hold true of New Years, too. We are not static beings. The human psyche loves growth and progression. Let us strive to progress, year round.

Happy New Year!

Thank you for listening.

© Matthew Rutherford 1998

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