New Year’s is not my thing.
I may wish you a Happy New Year and, in fact, I probably will. But I am just as likely to wish you a happy Monday, or a happy August 29th (a very good day), or a happy Whateverdayithappenstobe.
Truth is: I don’t think there is anything special about New Year’s.
January 1st is an arbitrary date, set eons ago by Ancient Romans who created a calendar to honor gods that no one (or at least probably not you and definitely not me) worships anymore. In fact, the calendar originally started in March, but oops! Turns out a year was a couple months longer than previously suspected. And so…
We find ourselves with a holiday, rife with forced merriment and high hopes, that signifies a new beginning while actually being Just Another Day.
Now, lest you think I am some incorrigible pessimist, allow me to qualify that statement.
Just Another Day is just as magical and holds just as much promise, just as much potential, as New Year’s. It’s not that New Year’s isn’t magical. It’s that we need to maintain sight of the fact that every day is magical. Every day is magnificent. And every day holds infinite possibility.
A year ago, the world was screaming at the top of its lungs: LET’S PUT 2020 BEHIND US! HOORAY FOR 2021!
Today, the call is the same, the number is just plus-one.
Why are we, as humans, so naive as to think that Covid-19 will disappear because the calendar flipped a day? That politics will clean up and humans will abandon hate because we passed another midnight?
If we want to see these powerful, positive changes, we need to make a permanent and daily commitment to maintain the patience and persistence necessary to do our parts to transform our world community into the benevolent society it was intended to be.
This year, I have had more deaths among my friends and family than any year previous. I spent December 31st at a funeral.
I know that I am not alone in grieving the losses around me. I know I am not alone in bleeding for all the suffering around me. And I also know that I am not alone in gratitude for the health of my loved ones and myself.
Each year that I live, I learn more profoundly that life is short. And these days are precious. And it is an absolute sin to throw away a year–or years–as if shedding some sort of a curse.
In yoga, we are taught to honor and value each breath. The Yama of Asteya–non-stealing–dictates that to use a single breath for anything other than good deed is to steal from God. Accordingly, in the practice of yoga, we must optimize each moment of each day to be the best humans we can be, and to effect the most positive change we can upon the world around us.
We are limiting our social responsibility when we leave resolutions as a New Year’s tradition–really, just a game to see how long we can maintain a goal (an hour? a day? a week? a month? probably not a month…)–before tossing the effort aside until next year.
As a person who has fully committed myself to the practice of personal growth, I honestly and truly work each and every day on being the kind of person that any New Year’s resolution-setter would be proud to be.
Truth is, I am too deeply flawed to limit my self-examination to New Year’s Day. I can’t afford to ignore or postpone the work that needs to be done today.
And if today happens to be January 1st, so be it.