“Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.” – Thomas Mann, Nobel laureate
Where were you when the last century ended?
At Midnight on December 31,1999 where were you? I remember clearly where I was. Where I live it was a clear, cold night about 10 degrees below zero. I was in the woods behind my house, knee deep in snow, with a glass of bubbly perched on a log. My wine was held tightly in place by the fresh, deep snow. And as a watched the fireworks light up the sky in the distance over the nearby city of Charlottetown I was thinking about the beauty of our world and appreciating the privilege of living across two centuries of human history and of the life I had at that point in time.
“Every man regards his own life as the New Year’s Eve of time.”– Jean Paul Richter, writer
Why do we celebrate on new Year’s Eve?
My nephew is getting married this New Year’s Eve and I am invited. Like most of his contemporaries today, he is not some naive teenager but rather turning thirty. The invitation to his nuptials got me thinking about him having two things to celebrate on the rest of his life every New Year’s Eve…the new year and his wedding anniversary…which got me wondering why we celebrate each new year in the first place. What is it about the start of another year of our life which generates this interest in celebration? Why isn’t it a time of mourning instead? If we look around, it is certainly not hard to find things to mourn. But instead you and I invariably decide to celebrate!
“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” – Edith Lovejoy Pierce, poet
Is it about assessing our life?
What are we actually celebrating? Is it really “out with the old and in with the new” we hear repeated ad nauseam in the media? I don’t think so! It is much more important than simply licking your wounds over last year and hoping, like a four year old, fate or a deity, will make the next twelve months somehow better.
Many people even make New Year’s Resolutions. A New Year’s resolution is a promise you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year. To have a resolution demands you first conduct a self-evaluation of the past year(s). But, to self evaluate means you have to have something to evaluate yourself against…like a goal, a dream or a purpose. And I think that is the “kicker” which drives you and me to do something many of us carefully avoid most of the time…assess our progress in life.
It has been said the reason there is so much intoxication on this night of the year is because many people are trying to forget their past year’s poor performance. But I don’t buy that perspective. It strikes me as superficial…I think it is much more profound.
“Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day.”
– Michael Josephson, speaker
The three most insulting words in any language!
I learned many years ago the three most insulting words in any language anyone can hear from another human being. While individually they are not considered profane. But when put together in a specific order…they probably should be. These are three words which deny your biology, deny your identity, deny your dreams and deny your purpose.
Surprisingly, they are said quite often by, well intentioned but unaware, individuals who are usually caught up in trying to help someone they care about. The three most insulting and disrespectful words you can ever hear are: I Know You!
No one can ever really know you. No one will ever be able to read your mind, know your dreams, understand your aspirations or uncover your life purpose. These will only ever be known to you. You may share parts of them at times with those you trust. But, even this is a small piece who you. In addition, they are constantly evolving in keeping with your own growth.
My guess would be you have heard these three words yourself…as indeed I have. I notice in my work many people have vivid, clear memories of the moments of hearing these three words because of the emotions it generated within them.
I remember the time a close friend remarked how I must know my partner well after our long marriage. I responded, “Not a chance! She is a moving target…she is not the woman I married forty years ago…she is not the person I raised three children with and she is not the woman I was living with last week…she keeps changing constantly.”
The most important self talk you have had all year long!
Each New Year’s Eve I am reminded of how silly and obtuse these three words really are in human communication. New Year’s Eve is when each of us has a private conversation with ourselves to determine how we are really doing in life. This conversation while instigated by the end of the current year, may be the most important self talk you have had all year long.
It is on New Year’s Eve we get to judge ourselves in private and decide what is next for us because a new year is beginning and we have another opportunity to be more focused…to follow our dream…to be purposeful. This is why so many of us celebrate the new year. We are really celebrating another opportunity to take control of our life, design our own destiny and act on our own special purpose.
We have to do it ourselves.
The challenge of course is we have to do it our self. Since no one can read our mind, know our dream or understand our purpose, it falls on us, and only us, to do it. Worse still is we are the only one who will know how well we are doing in this journey. Others may offer their perspective. Since it is filtered through their value system and not ours, it has little use to us.
So while my nephew will start using every New Year’s Eve to self evaluate at least his marriage, we get the opportunity to self evaluate a bigger chunk…our life! This of course suggests there is only one New Year’s Eve resolution we need to address every year regardless of where we are in our life..are we be consciously purposeful in our life right now?
“The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time. All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months!” – Edward Payson Powell, author
Each person and so each person’s life has a specific purpose!
Since every thing and event in our universe has a specific purpose in serving the survival and evolution of our universe, we humans are included in this natural process. So just as each plant, rock, earthquake and storm have a specific purpose in this so also does each person and so each person’s life.
This very point is the basis of Frank Capra’s ever popular Holiday movie, It’s a Wonderful Life! His movie demonstrates how George Bailey’s life as the manager of a small saving and loan company impact an entire community…the lives of at least hundreds if not thousands of people. Capra’s movie demonstrates each person, regardless of their life, have a very special, specific role to play in the evolution of the people and communities in which they live. While wrapped in Christian theology for marketing purposes…it still it reflects the basic law of nature…everyone has a specific purpose in being in our universe at this time in its evolution.
“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.” – Charles Lamb, essayist
Everybody serves…no exceptions!
Everybody serves in our evolution. There is no waste in nature so there can be no exceptions! A current Canadian example is the mayor of Toronto who, as his life spins out of control, is providing a valuable learning opportunity for millions of people around the world. As they watch his antics on their television news, they learn how one can give away control of their future by using short sighted decision making including in this case drug use and temper tantrum.
There is only one New Year’s Resolution to make to yourself!
So the only New Year’s Resolution we each need to consider is:
As I stop on this New Year’s Eve to self evaluate my life so far…can I honestly say to myself I am consciously purposeful in my life in a way which reminds me daily I am privileged to be alive and loved?
If you get an unqualified, “YES!” then you already have what Frank Capra called, A Wonderful Life! So then you on this New Year’s Eve are breaking your personal record for the number of consecutive days lived consciously on purpose! Congratulations!
“If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am.” – Cyril Cusack, actor
Next time we start our look at the most commonly diagnosed mental health condition, depression and we will tell you about the launch of my new book, Resolve Your Depression Now!
POINTS TO PONDER AND REMEMBER are:
- Celebrating New Year’s is about having a conversation with ourselves.
- Celebrating New Year’s is about realizing no one really know us.
- Celebrating New Year’s is about evaluating our life’s progress!
- Celebrating New Year’s is being reminded if it is to be, it is up to me!
- Celebrating New Year’s is reminding ourselves we have a specific purpose.
- Celebrating New Year’s is noticing a new opportunity to be purposeful.
- Celebrating New Year’s is about celebrating the privilege of your life!