Saturday, December 31, 2011

Same old Old Year's Day post

Happy Old Year's Day. Again. (That still hasn't caught on. Oh well.)


The end of the year approaches, and as with everything else in life that holds significance only because we choose to impart some onto it; the calendar of the dominant economic and/or military powers over the last two millennia has its last day before the year changes coming in a few days and our proclivity is to consider that as some cosmic reset button having been pushed.

There are calendars that some observe that do not end upon December 31, but those aren't used by society in general so we won't bother with them; if one is not part of a community where those have significance they're merely an excuse for a celebration (if one is so inclined).

Well, okay, to be fair, New Year's Day is ultimately nothing more than an excuse for a celebration; it's not religious or cultural, but just a national holiday that corresponds with the changing of the calendar.

What does this say about us?

We are a species whose intellect largely renders us in need of symbolic rebirth. Let's face it: Being alive and being aware sucks a lot of the time. We do our best not to dwell on that, but it takes some effort not to descend into the doldrums of existence. And although it's delusion to think that January 1 brings any inherent renewal, we need that delusion once a year to facilitate a sense that the shit from the past 365 days has been left in the past and there's hope for the next 365 (or 366, as will be the case in 2012).

You can view that assessment as pessimistic if you like, but if life were mostly awesome, why would we need a holiday about the year changing only a week after another major holiday (of at least ostensible religious significance)? I'm just saying that it seems like a world where things were mostly spiffy most of the time would find flipping the calendar to be superfluous.

But hey, it's a day off from work, so let's celebrate that. Even if we cannot all agree that life may mostly suck I suspect we can agree work mostly sucks. If it didn't, it wouldn't be called "work," would it?

It may only be easing us into another year of suckitude, but at least it's suckitude that has not yet happened, and therefore may not happen.

That, I suppose, may be the best reason to celebrate there is.


Another aspect of the end of the year that reveals something about our species: The fact that we bother to pay attention to best-of lists and recaps of the past 12 months indicates we have also have a need to find some worthwhile aspects of the year that passed to make it seem not so bad; that short-term nostalgia is a respite from the suckitude as well.

I'm not suggesting it's bad to find refuge in dwelling upon the bright moments. Whatever get you through the night, and whatnot.

It also suggests we want to do one last mental lap around the year to find those tiny triumphs before we box them up and move on to the future, leaving both them and the suckitude behind.

The positive side of all of this: This suckitude, like all suckitude that has come before, will not be our end. I suppose that's the real cause for celebration when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st: Another year has not only been survived and endured but also its shit has been bested, because we can find good things to remember.

Every year has had sh*tty times. Next year will have some. It likely will have a lot. But it won't be any different than all the ones we've made it through.

That's some optimistic perspective for you.

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