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CULTURE

A new year

Looking at 2014 from this side, we have a chance to take in our acts and their implications

It’s an experience an alien might think we have gone through enough times. It is a story we have told over and over again for as long as the world can remember. And yet, every 365 days, 366 every fourth time, we go through it again, and it feels as if we were doing it for the very first time.

Nothing has changed on the outside, yet, nine days ago, that organisational tool we use to plan our days, the calendar, indicated that the date was January the first, the year of Our Lord two thousand and fifteen. In other words, it was the first day of yet another year. The preceding night had been spent with bated breaths, discounting the hiccups, in joyful expectation of the impending year.

Spontaneous exclamation and blooming fireworks marked the moment when the last second of the ending year was extinguished, like the last wisp of flame from a dying candle. And as the ghost of the dead year disappeared into history, we officially entered the new.

Like all the new years we’ve had before, we can feel the freshness, the suppleness of 2015 in these, its early days. We have made resolutions, that this new year will be witness to the change we’ve been meaning to implement for so long, that we will begin with fresh resolve to root out our predominant defects, that we will be better towards our friends. Some are still making. Some have made the resolution never to make any other resolution.

Looking at 2014 from this side, we now have a chance to take in our acts and their implications from some sort of bird’s eye view. We haven’t been entirely extricated from them, but the momentary break the new year grants us is an opportunity to take a collective view of these things over a lengthy period. We see our strengths, our abilities, our virtues. But against this backdrop, our failures and mistakes stick out like the stains on that white sheet in the Ariel advert.

And we weep over the year strewn with our infidelities. We weep until we feel the fresh breeze that tells us that 2014 is no more, that we are in 2015. We turn around and see the fresh year rolling before our eyes, all the way to the next December 31st. It’s a new beginning, another chance to reattempt the discovery of the true meaning of our lives. And hope floats into our hearts, and we know that not all is lost.

On the outside, nothing is different. The traffic police officers who pick bribes on the roads are still there. China still has the world’s biggest population. Kenyan television is still boring and utterly depraved. Politicians still spew lies left, right and centre. Self-interested bigots still masquerade as activists. The course of world history chugs on, largely unaware of the jolt we all felt when we crossed the threshold into 2015.

What, then, makes 2015 new? We see nothing new, yet we call the year new. Why? The answer to this question lies not in the things we see, nor in the work we do. Neither is it to be found in the faces we see every day, nor in the cobblestones of the thoroughfares we tread. No, the answer lies elsewhere.

It lies in the hearts and heads of men. It shows itself in the desires and aspirations that rise from inside each person at the prospect of another chance to correct the errors so far incurred on the path of life, to recover the loses so far made. And these manifest themselves in each man, however indifferent they will insist they are to these human inventions and conventions.

And why, why do we all feel the relief that a year has ended, that a new has begun? This is a question which, despite its universal scope, elicits particularly individual responses. And these individual responses should make for quite some interesting reading. But I will not enumerate them here, because I know of only one such response. Mine. And that I cannot write here. You have yours too, I hope. All I can write here, after everything I’ve already written, is, “Happy New Year! And may the odds be ever in your favour.”

Feature image: Source unknown.

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