I called Adrian earlier today, at midnight. From the obvious enthusiasm in his hello, I could tell that he was uuum… angry ‘only mildly excited to be woken up from his sleep’. This coming from someone who had told me “By midnight he is sure he will have figured out something chill to do.” Something popping. Something rocking. Something befitting of his ‘cool kid’ status. After laughing the appropriate cynical laughter (it was my duty to human kind-you’re welcome), I thought that maybe Adrian, more than most of us, had got it right. Perhaps the New Year is the celebration of an end rather than a beginning. And nothing marks the end of a significant era for a human being like good sleep.
I move to have us stop saying happy New Year and instead start saying happy Old Year. 1st January is less about looking forward and more about looking back. We look back at the mountains on whose peaks we have pitched our flags. We look back at the mountains that we are still training to climb. We look back at the mountains that looked down upon us; sneered at us, let us know we were no matches for them. On New Year’s, we are allowed to pause and take it all in.
As students, and parents, and career men and career women, and brothers and sisters and friends… As human beings, we spend everyday climbing mountains. We work to get into our employers’ good books. We try to fix relationships gone sour. We watch friends and family in pain. Money bosses us around. Exams have us on our knees. We are unsuccessful at learning Beyoncé’s moves (yeah, me neither). Everyday we climb. Everyday we grow more and more out of breath.
On New Year’s you are allowed to ‘ostrich’. Ostriching is the (very reasonable) action of filtering everything unpleasant from your mind. Close your eyes. Imagine your toes caressing Mombasa’s sandy beaches. Imagine yourself as a child on a swing in a grass-covered backyard screaming with delight (or an adult, no judging). Imagine looking out the window on a moving car and taking in the breeze. Imagine the view of the Nile from a plane.
New year’s is actually a celebration of the old year. We are not happy because we are looking forward to a new year. We are happy because we are silently proud of the heights we scaled the previous year. We are proud of the scars we got and the wrong turns we made on our way up. We are proud we got somewhere, even if that somewhere was not where we had hoped to reach. We look back because we need it. We look back because it is the only way we can build up confidence, if but little, to take on the New Year.
And when Adrian, a light drinker, tries to convince you in the morning that he had passed out drunk, at midnight, an hour after you had talked to him when he was sober as a judge, say you believe him. Say you believe him because New Year’s is for catching your breath.
Truth is, you know and I know that today is the first of three hundred and sixty five days worth of mountains we are setting out to climb. And we would rather look back at the ones we succeeded at climbing- if only barely- and celebrate that we must be doing one or two things right.
Bravo, dear readers, and happy old year!
To Adrian, who is always so kind about allowing me to tell his stories