Holding your breath? Maybe you should. I would but then I’d pass out and it would prove nothing. Not sure whether to dread the year ahead or embrace it in the hope that all will be well. I write this on the 3rd of January, when my youngest daughter turns 26. She has plans. Well, sort of. My little globe trotting traveller wants to see the world (she’s already seen more than I have) and find her place in it. Good plan.
I, on the other hand, have no plan. As Brooks and Dunn put it in their song Hard Workin’ Man, “I’m gettin’ pretty good at barely gettin’ by.” Yup, that says it all for me. But I must add that I’m OK with that. I’ve experienced a few things in my life that tell me where I’m at is just fine. Plans change anyway. I enjoy the unknown from day to day. How about you?
In the greater scheme of things (I love using that phrase), time is a nonsense. Humans quantify time. The universe cares not a whit for our clocks and calendars. It is no more January on Pluto as it is anywhere within the Andromeda Galaxy and beyond. But here, on this tiny rock, among trillions of other planets in the billions of galaxies in the universe, I somehow need to know what day it is, in which month of what year….and the time of day. It rules our lives.
That is why at midnight on the 31st of December, every year, most of the world goes mad ringing in a new year. We as a species are nothing if not tied to our rituals. Huge fireworks displays are set off in all the major capitols of the world, competing with each other to see who can out do the others for the bragging rights to bringing the new year in with the most colourful explosions. We minions blow noise makers, bang pots and pans, let a few fireworks off in our gardens or town squares, drunkenly sing an old Scottish ditty and smooch. Every year, everywhere, the same rituals.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am just as much a creature of habit as the next person. I have my own rituals to get me through the day as do you. Even brushing teeth is a ritual. And we all do it differently. The same goes for New Year’s Eve. Some party, some stay at home and watch the party on the television. Others make resolutions they mean to keep but rarely do. Those who have bad memories of the date try to ignore the rituals. But in the end, even they have write the new year date on whatever document they may have to sign.
I’ve done it all….partying, stood with the community to watch fireworks, watched the whole thing on the tele, gone to sleep before midnight, blown noise makers and have even poo-pooed the whole ritual thing. And the next morning I wake up and the year number has risen by one. I can’t stop it. No one can. As inevitable as a sunrise and a sunset.
Last year my best friend and I stayed in, on the boat, watching a movie….’New Year’s Eve’, not that good even with a cast of A-listers. This year we were going to do the same, but ended up in a pub just along the towpath (though we took a cab there) with our boat neighbours, Eddie and Mimz and a couple from a nearby apartment, Sandy and Graham. My best friend wasn’t feeling the greatest, but we had purchased a ticket and felt we needed to go.
The other two couples are seasoned partiers. Mimz is the most gregarious person I know. She’ll talk to or dance with anyone. And she did. Most of the crowd were young people….well, young to me. Skirts up to the yingyangs, drunk and loud kids. The music was clubby, not my usual playlist. Drinks were spilled, jewellery lost, girl on girl action and a queue at the bar that seemed unending. Everything to make a great party. And there we were, my best friend and I, sitting in a corner on damp wicker chairs we had brought in from the pub’s patio, nursing one drink each and people watching.
Seems the DJ had a different idea as to when the stroke of midnight arrived. All our mobiles (cells) read something else. Mine was at 12:03 when the DJ finally got around to the countdown. Anyway, we all yelled ‘Happy New Year’, as you do, and hugged. We escaped the stranger hugs, being sequestered in a corner as we were. No Scottish ditty this year. Not cool enough for the DJ. Thought he’d be unconventional and non-traditional I suppose. But he still had to acknowledge the shift.
My best friend and I lasted another half hour before excusing ourselves from the others, who were by now partying like there would never be a 2018, and off, down the towpath we went, in the pitch black, to our boat. All we had was my best friend’s mobile (cell) torchlight to show the pathway. The dirt path was slick with a layer of mud and the going was slow, but it was so quiet. A few boats moored along the bank had lights on inside, but not a soul was on the towpath or anywhere to be seen outdoors.
On the other side of the canal were rows of apartment buildings, recently built and looking new, fresh and well kept. A couple of apartments had lights on. Some contained revellers still partying. Then, half way back to our boat, a Christmas light show displayed at one townhouse, on the canal side, not the front, blazed in all its glory out into the dark. Magical. Best light show I’d seen all season, including our own. We stopped to look at it for a time. Such peace all around. A great start to 2017. May it continue forever.