The Opportunity of the New Year: Champagne, sequins, and a little magic
My first thought as I rolled over in bed, my eyes blinking through the groggy champagne headache, was, “It’s a new year. I wish that meant shit.”
Because, while I love celebrating the New Year and we are all excited to say good-bye to the train wreck that was 2016, the arbitrary changing of the Roman calendar year does not mean much for our nation, for the world, for the mess we are in. Donald Trump will soon be our president, the cease-fire in Aleppo is shaky at best and fascism is rising globally.
I do believe that the New Year means something, but it does not mean what most of want it to mean. We want it to mean that we will wake up in 2017 and things will magically be better. Our revered heroes will not die this year, there will not be terrible shootings, and hatred will not reign. This is not true; these problems still exist today and the fact that terrible things will happen will always exist, regardless of time.
While we cannot expect the New Year to magically wipe away the ugliness in the world, it does hold magic in it. The New Year is a ceremony, one that deals with oldness and newness, the pattern of death and rebirth. It is about letting go and dreaming new dreams and connecting with the ongoing changing of the seasons that steadily roll in and out like the lapping of the tides. It is a metaphorical letting go of the old and time for birth of the new, which, as we face the harshness of reality that is 2017, is absolutely vital.
I always take time around the New Years to celebrate and honor the past year, to reflect on my personal successes and pitfalls, to let go of everything unfinished and imperfect and dream into my dreams for the New Year.
I invite all of us to do this, to pull inward and connect with ourselves. And, not as a myopic exercise concerned with only our lives, how much money we’d like to make and where we would like it live, but to use it to really dream into how we want to be of service in a time when the world really needs us all. What are your skills and resources, and how will you offer them up? What are your non-negotiables, and how will you protect them? How will you stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable? What do you need personally to ensure your ongoing health and engagement?
I pray that the New Year will be a powerful time for all of us to refill our cups and clarify our focus so that we may move with the swiftness of an Eagle in these precarious times.
And, my last thought regarding what New Years has to offer, especially after such a shitty year, is about birthdays, and one birthday in particular. It was my friend’s 62nd birthday, a birthday that capped the end of perhaps the shittiest year of her life. After her mother’s death and retirement, she started having strange health problems, which quickly snowballed into extreme anxiety, depression and more health problems. Just like 2016, it had been an incredibly shitty year.
On her 62nd birthday, she had been improved just enough to have a rich meal. We cooked her pasta with clams, popped a bottle of champagne and made a desert called “the tower”, cream puffs stacked in a pyramid, cemented with whipped cream and covered with chocolate. In a festive burst of energy, she put on a tight, sequined leopard print dress and danced around the kitchen.
I watched with delight as she sipped her champagne and enjoyed her chocolate covered cream puff and said to her, “I think 62 is going to be a better year.”
And it was. The number of good days started to outweigh the bad, and the bad days started to become less bad.
She got better mainly because she worked hard. She was diligent about doctor’s appointments and taking medications and eating regularly and meditating. She did everything you are supposed to do to get better, and she did. It was definitely not magic that helped her get better, but I do think the magic of that evening helped. It reminded her what fun felt like, that there are people who love her and that there is always sweetness in life along with the hard.
And, while magic is not going to save us in 2017, it is always helpful. Right now, what we are facing is big, and it will take hard work and determination and diligence. But, why not pop a bottle of champagne, put on some sequins and stir a little extra mojo into our cauldrons.
Because Lord knows, we are certainly going to need it in the coming year.
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