There is only one tradition that I celebrate every new year’s, and that’s listening to U2’s “New Years Day.” I started doing this when I was in junior high, and back then, it was a fairly basic “look—it’s new year’s day and, and, I’m listening to a song called ‘New Year’s Day!’” Since then, my attitude has changed.
I rarely get time to stop in my life; I keep myself pretty tightly scheduled, because there’s a lot I want to do. I take the four minutes and eighteen seconds of the song to just sit, and regroup. I don’t particularly listen to the lyrics anymore. I let it set the tone for a good little think about what’s important.
This time, I did not reflect on 2012. 2012 was a year, and now it’s done. A lot of the really memorable stories from 2012 will be ones that I tell in the future.
Instead, I thought about 2013. 2013 is going to be another year. There are a lot of events coming that I know will come, and I know will be pivotal. First is my birthday. Huzzah! Then I’ll have to write my preclinical comprehensive final. Eeek. With that in the past, I’ll be getting married. Huzzah! Then I shall start my third year of medicine, which is my first year of clerkship. Eeek.
I feel that every year, people around me sit around and say “oh, this last year was pretty good, but this next year—this next year is going to be great.” And I’m not sure why. Sure, there are a lot of things that a person can look forward to in a year. For example, getting married is going to be fantastically fun, and the honeymoon will also be, whatever form it takes. Still, we can’t really know what’s going to happen in the coming year.
More or less, every year is the same, I find. The numbers of ups roughly equals the numbers of downs. People get older, but they may or may not grow.
The “this will be a good year” mantra is probably psyche talk for “I’m going to try and be happier this year.” And a lot of people do start out trying new things that they think will make them happier around new years, with, at best, mixed success.
I’m of the opinion that too much happiness is not only impossible, it’s bad for you. No one could be constantly happy and also be psychologically whole, I think. Worse, the pursuit of happiness can so easily turn into a dungeon of self-blame and despair.
I’ve stopped chasing the bluebird of happiness, and am more often visited by the bovine of contentment.
I think “bovine of contentment” because cows seem to be pretty placid most of the time. It’s nice to just chew cud, and reflect that what I’ve done, and what I’m going to do, is pretty much what I’m glad to have done and do.
Happy new year’s. I hope you have a cow.