On New Year’s Eve the tavern at Wollombi plays host to a sparky farewell to the old and a hearty welcome to the new with a bang, boom, and fzzzzzzzzpop flash of fireworks. A large crowd of locals and some not so locals come together around the bar, fill the balconies and stand in groups amongst the tables on the large, grassy lawn to ooh and ahh and gaze, faces tilted upward admiring the show. It is the sort of event where children dart around the legs of the bevie drinkers standing on the grass whilst their parents, for the most part, do not keep a specific track on where their kids are; trusting instead to the collective responsibility and care of the community to ensure safety. It works. So the kids, adorned with glow sticks, roll down the slope of the small hill upon which the pub stands, and try to slide down it on cardboard they have retrieved from the tavern’s recycling pile. The glowsticks are whirled in multi-coloured whips, and the colour combinations provide a reference point for identifying children – “Mine have orange sticks, with red and blue wrist bands.” Later, a sugar glider sat on the power line above us watching, probably wondering what the hell all that noise, smoke and odd light was about. Slowly the crowd dispersed, having exchanged good wishes, renewed acquaintances, met new people and shared a moment of community celebration.
In between sharing news, gossip and banter, some of the talk between the partygoers touched upon resolutions, whether real or joking. We tend to be prompted by the ending of each year’s calendar cycle to review our life’s progress. To find weaknesses and to resolve to address them. To identify opportunities and to promise ourselves we will make a better effort to exploit them. To realise that we have missed the chance to tell someone something important and to commit to ensuring we share how we feel with those closest to us. Somewhere today, more than a few people woke up having broke off a relationship last night having decided Enough!, or they entered into a new one sealed with a midnight kiss and probably fuelled with a big glass of suppressed inhibitions. Some will regret. Some will rejoice. Some will just be nursing a sore head and trying to remember how they got home. Some haven’t got home yet. Some never will.
Almost certainly though, most of the New Year’s resolutions that are made will not be kept. Various studies indicate that somewhere between 70 and 80% of resolutions will fail (the interweb told me so it must be true). A search on google for the phrase “how many new years resolutions are kept” yields a surprisingly precise 39,800,000 hits, which if nothing else demonstrates that the author of site’s search and display algorithm made and kept a resolution to code some fancy number rounding subroutine at some point. Well, at least someone keeps their promises.
Perhaps all those resolutions failed because the person making them was pissed at the time and just couldn’t remember afterward. Perhaps the resolution was made and voiced just to please someone else, rather than being one that the maker held as being personally important. Perhaps a genuine effort was made to live up to the promise but in the end “life just got in the way”. More than a few though I think will fail because as a rule we have the attention span of gnats, whilst the execution of our promises require effort expended over a year, which is three to four gnat life spans (which goes to show by the way that the phrase ought to be attention span of a gastrotich). The problem isn’t so much our adherence to the promises we keep, its the overly long interval between review periods.
Taking the opportunity to reflect on how we’re travelling through life, how we are treating ourselves, others, and the planet on which we live is a wonderful thing to do. However doing so once a year is something unlikely to ever yield real meaning or result. Too much baggage builds up over all that time – making the task of effecting change all that harder. Habits have become all that more ingrained, and words spoken in haste and emotion have over time become deeply imbedded in the listener’s and the speaker’s psyche; sharp splinters of sourness too deeply ingrained to be easily removed and healed over. If we are to succeed in bettering ourselves through thoughtful self analysis perhaps the answer lies in finding the time and courage to do so at the end of each day, rather than at the end of the calendar year. To be better tomorrow, in the next conversation, at the next meal, in the next deed performed and word spoken. To be resolute in one’s purpose; in striving to be a better person at every moment. To say thankyou, to offer a sorry, to remember to smile and to say please. To correct mistakes and to learn. To recognise what we each do well and what we can do better at. To walk with pride and grace and with a light tread.
The sun came up today on this first day of 2013, as it did yesterday on the last day of 2012. The timbre of its light is different, though you’d not know it – we don’t perceive the day by day change in the sun’s energy production. Every day seems the same and we have not any power over the course of the sun during each one; it is only within us that we can make a difference to the light.