It’s eight in the morning in Michigan as I sit typing these words. In Sydney, Australia, they’re ringing in the New Year—2011. Where did the first decade of the new millennium go?
It’s true: the older one gets the faster time seems to pass. In youth minutes seem like hours, hours like days. On the other end, as we feel our time dwindling, years seem like months, months like weeks, weeks like days, days like hours. My parents were right about that, too. But I didn’t believe them then.
I recall the first time my parents let me stay up to watch the New Year come in. I was maybe seven or eight years old. I expected something spectacular. What I got was Daddy kissing Mommy and a sip of somebody’s champagne (in today’s world that might be considered, at worst, child abuse; at best, contributing to the delinquency of a minor). I was so disappointed (although the champagne tasted better than ginger ale).
And so it has been ever since. Out with the old; in with the new. As if the sweeping out the old will automatically result in something better. That’s what we do to the elderly in this country, with our fear of aging (plastic surgery and anti-wrinkle creams are billion dollar industries) and of death and dying. In time, I’ll be swept out, too, because I’ll be considered old. In a country that claims to believe in God, why do we so fear dying? Is it because we know, at some level, we have displeased God and fear His retribution?
Out with the old; in with the new. So I’ve become accustomed to “sleeping out” the old year and forgoing watching the ball dropping in Times Square in preference to the onerous task of sawing wood.
That image of the old year as an old man in a diaper—decrepit, bent and fragile—on his way out and making room for the new year as a newborn, smiling and with all the hopes of youth is a microcosm of life. Life can beat one down—a faltering economy, unemployment, the rising cost of healthcare, global warming, the threat of terrorism, corruption in politics and a two-party system stuck in gridlock. Is it any wonder that I gave up making resolutions for the New Year?
I’ve been called negative and I admit to seeing my glass seven-eighths empty. Heck, some people call me curmudgeonly—that’s a moniker I wear proudly; after all, after fifty-four years, I’ve earned the right to speak my mind. Others define patriotism as staying on board the sinking ship no matter what; but I feel my patriotic duty is to voice my discontent when I see something broken, not working. A failure to do so, in my mind, amounts only to voicing my approval in the face of what’s not right.
I hear people say this country is still the best country in the world, but I’m not so sure anymore. Our reputation in the eyes of the global community has been tarnished in the last decade, and I’ve heard it said that we will begin to default on our foreign loans within five years. The Baby Boomer generation will, in 2011, begin turning sixty-five at the rate of one every ten seconds—or three to four million annually. How will that affect Social Security? Will Social Security even be around in another dozen years, when I reach retirement age and need it most?
But all negativity aside, this year I’m making an exception—my New Years revolution. I’m not sticking my head in the sand and pretending that 2011 will see something magical happen in terms of government working together to better represent We, the People, or that our healthcare system will be fixed, that everyone who is unemployed will find a job, that global warming will suddenly do an about face, and that the U.S. will again be viewed, in the eyes of the rest of world, as the harbingers of human rights.
I won’t resolve to lose twenty pounds—I’ve done that already thanks to an irritable bowel—and said irritable bowel has already prompted me to improve my diet.
But I do resolve to write more, which includes blogging, to speak my mind in the face of what’s wrong—but also to write more about what’s right in the world.
I have a novel I expect to finish before winter is over, and a new novel that will launch in January with a second to follow later in the year. I resolve to do more to promote my literary career in the hope of securing my retirement. And I resolve to start a new novel (although I have no idea yet what it may be about).
With potential romance on the horizon, I resolve to love more and to judge less, and also to look more for the good in people and in the world.
Finally, I resolve to stare less at my past, to dwell less on regrets, to forgive myself and others, and to live more in the moment—today—in order to create a better tomorrow for myself and those around me.
2011 may not change much in terms of the global picture; but I resolve to do more to make my small pocket in the world a much more pleasant place in which to live.
Happy New Year!