That big ball thingy in New York City is about an hour from dropping, as indicated by the fact that our neighborhood sounds like it could be sitting in some Middle Eastern hotspot. (I do sincerely hope the amateur fireworkers on our street end the night with all their fingers still attached. Unless they’re still keeping me awake at 2:00 a.m. In that case, I’ll be hoping they blow themselves up.)
In case you’re wondering, I will not be watching the ball drop. I gave that foolishness up about twenty years ago when it suddenly dawned on me that few things are more hollow than the celebrations we see as one year gives way to another. The way people drink and propose toasts and sing and kiss, you’d think something significant actually happened, like maybe a World War had been won or something. But no, most of the tipsy revelers are going to go right back to their sad little lives and be just as miserable in the new year as they were in the old one.
And don’t get me started on New Year’s resolutions. I saw a survey one time where people were asked if they had ever–EVER–stuck with a New Year’s resolution for life. Less than 1% of the respondents said yes. (And I suspect some of them were lying!)
But don’t take all this cynicism to mean that I find no significance in the arrival of a new year. For me, it’s all about reflection.
Take today, for example.
This morning I installed the new Dragon dictation software on my computer. If you’d told me 38 years ago that someday I would be “writing” sermons by talking to a box and letting it do all the writing for me, I would have accused you of spiking the egg nog.
Then this evening I was listening to a record while I answered some emails. It was Stan Kenton’s “Stage Door Swings” recorded in 1958…in my humble opinion one of the great big band jazz albums of all time.
You do see the significance, don’t you?
My life is a mixture of the new and the old. I love my new software and I love my old music. Which is why I don’t get all caught up in leaving an old year behind and starting a new one. I’ve come to realize that we never really leave old years behind. We drag them along with us, at least the parts of them we want to hang onto. From relationships to accomplishments to music to lessons learned, we all pick up things as we go along and drop them into that big bag we have slung over our shoulders.
And that’s as it should be.
So go ahead, celebrate the arrival of 2014. But hang onto that bag. There’s old stuff in there you’re going to need.
And now I think I can go to bed. The “shelling” seems to have stopped, which means the last neighborhood fireworker has finally run out of ammo or blown himself up. Either way, it’s a blessing.