New Year’s is growing on me as a favorite holiday.
Maybe because my optimistic tendencies chronically look forward to whatever is coming next. Maybe because I get a little laugh every time someone, including myself, struggles to write the correct year on whatever important piece of paper is before them. Maybe because New Year’s is the only holiday where we don’t bicker about “the true meaning” of it.
Maybe because I am overcompensating for how badly I feared New Year’s as a 9-year-old. With all the Y2k hubbub, I was convinced that the world was going to end as New Year’s Eve 1999 came to a close. How the end of the world was supposed to happen was beyond me, so I simply anticipated what seemed most normal: instead of entering into the year 2000, the whole world would be shrouded in utter dark nothingness, one time zone at a time. It was a flood of relief that day to see the television broadcast of fireworks over the Sydney Opera House, proclaiming that Australia had safely arrived into the new millennium, and we in the PST time zone would be soon to follow.
I have shed much of that overactive paranoia, but maintained a certain awe at the passing of time. The fact that time passes is a gift we all too often take for granted. It is a gift that makes each moment sweet and fresh and it is pretty cool that we have a day to celebrate it joyously. Especially since, most usually, we curse the passing of time.
We are too busy, too rushed, we have to say goodbye, we miss that once-in-a-lifetime chance. If time would only stand still, our insatiable appetites for experience could have it all. So the story goes.
2012 is looking to be a good one. Granted, some are predicting the end of the world, but at least their end of the world is more exciting than my own. Otherwise, if everything goes according to plan, we can expect new albums from The Shins, Andrew Bird, Sleigh Bells and Nicki Minaj. We can expect the Oregon Ducks to win the Rose Bowl, with a post-game celebration in the sky thanks to the jetpacks Nike probably stitched in their uniforms. The United Nations has declared 2012 to be the “Year of Cooperatives” and while I don’t know what that means I suppose that is why the United Nations has declared it important.
2012 is one of those neat once-every-four-years kind of years, where Americans go crazy about electing a president, the Summer Olympics are played out (as a runner who happens to be in school for global studies and conflict transformation, I nerd out during the games), and to fit it all in February decides to add an extra day. At a more personal level, the last time this all happened, in 2008, I graduated from high school. If everything goes according to plan, I can expect to graduate from North Park this spring.
I am stoked to graduate. Yes, the economy is dull right now, but this simply means the class of 2012 has all the more reason to do the stuff that has never been done (successfully) before. The ceiling is so high we cannot even see it; I, myself, get all too easily lost in the daydream. Like a twelve-year-old-boy discovering that girls have bodies, I feel like a twenty-two-year-old-boy discovering that the future has possibilities, and it is all too easy to get lost in a state of futurelust.
A symptom of futurelust is to spend so much energy anticipating the future that one forgets how to live in the now. When the future does arrive, one does not know how to live within it, and instead one continues the vicious cycle of desiring only whatever the future may bring.
Desire should be a good thing. I’m hungry, so I eat; otherwise, I forget to eat and starve to death. But when we idolize our desire, our desire becomes lust. That is, a hunger that somehow grows independent of the object that could otherwise fulfill it. The desire becomes being-in-itself, a false god, and in the pursuit of it we find meaning. If the desire were ever to actually become fulfilled, the whole sense of meaning for the one-who-lusts is destroyed, therefore one has a vested interest in keeping the desire alive and unsatisfied. Of course, one is not immediately aware that any of this is happening. The desire creates a dream world, because the dream forms itself as an anesthetic to reality. Not that there is anything wrong with reality, except that it requires hard work and persistence and luck (if you’re religious, I mean “blessing” and if you’re a particular type of religious I mean “calling”).
Speaking for myself, I prefer reality, because I find something about reality to be more authentic than the dream.
Janus, the two-faced Roman god of January, looked both backward and forward. New Year’s is, in part, about looking backward, and that is why we should bring on as many tacky 11 best of 2011 lists we can muster. Because looking backward and looking forward are just different sides of the same thing.
As far as looking forward goes, a habit of presence is perhaps the best New Year’s resolution we can come up with. That is, in today’s globalized world of distractions in the name of “efficiency”, making the five-minute commitment to not check that text message from elsewhere or the year-long decision to not leave the place our ambitions try to suck us away from so soon. It is knowing that life does not begin with another graduation, but life has already begun. Because presence, or being firmly in the present, is the most solid resistance to futurelust imaginable.
Why: because 2012 is most definitely going to be too big a year to miss, a fantastic year with the joys of the world’s goodness that make life beautiful. A year with the pains of the world’s brokenness that spur us deeper towards the end of the world, as we know it, in every time zone, so that the world may know its justice and salvation.
Happy New Year.