You showed that it is not necessary to be unhappy, even while one is clear-eyed and undeluded about how terrible everything is.
– Susan Sontag to Jorge Luis Burges
Not much has changed for this man over the last three hundred or so days. If he is looking forward to anything, it’s that he recovers immediately from the physical malaise plaguing him in order to properly enjoy the festivities of the New Year. But who doesn’t get tired anyway? It must be the lunches and dinners he has had to deal with: feasts of food and wine and collegial and familial pleasantries. The body can only take so much and yet there is still half a week ahead of mingling, reuniting, feasting and reflecting. If only one could sleep through the evening of the thirty-first…
But the year, with all its ups and downs, has been kinder to this man. And so while only a few things have been altered, those which did constitute an integral part of his spirit. Where a year ago he would have found the year that was as stagnant, uninspired, and hampered by emotional turmoil, this year saw him explore new places, meet new people, and try out new things. These new engagements have been a welcome turn of events for the man.
In travelling, he saw lands unspoiled by the chaos and commerce of urban settings. Amidst these unfamiliar environs, voices previously unheard of spoke a language silenced by the insularity of the city. In meeting new people, a part of his soul was illumined by stories his imaginations could only dream of conjuring. The world indeed contains multitudes amplified by the uniqueness of every soul. In trying out new things, the man leaped into the unknown and immersed in the adrenaline of having his curiosity satisfied and fear conquered. These fresh and often unexpected experiences taught him much about the world but even more about himself.
For this man, the holidays have so far been spent recalling all these new things, these fresh memories still vivid as the day they were lived. The end days serve as some sort of culmination of past, present, and future. Time stops. Time moves. Time bends. The anticipation of the New Year offers lenses through which matters big and small are inspected with the clarity afforded by hindsight. Regrets resurface. Griefs emerge once more. But the pains are distilled by the offer of a new tomorrow, where the lessons from strangers and strange places can be applied with a greater, truer sense of hope.
Hope makes this man look forward to a better year. Looking ahead isn’t one of his virtues. But now he sees tomorrow with great confidence. He remains reasonable. Understandably, things will go wrong as is the machinery of life. But he is better equipped to handle setbacks and failures; better disposed to appreciate the details which accessorize his life. He’s stronger but also less reluctant to give up control when necessary. And perhaps with a little sense of humor, he is also better prepared to go through the motions and niceties of next year’s holidays. But then that’s looking too far ahead. If the world taught him something really important this year it is that you never plan for tomorrow at the expense of your today.