We bought our diaries the other day. (I know – riveting – but stay with me!) The ‘other day’ was unfashionably late, nearing the end of the first week of the New Year. Just a few days earlier, crowds all over the world had gathered to celebrate the arrival of 2017. Like most of us they made their resolutions – and like most of us, probably forgot them the next day.
So far so traditional but this time it seemed that the rituals were powered by relief, a world-wide delight in seeing off a ghastly year. As Dave Barry wrote in the Washington Post ‘ In the future, Americans – assuming there are any left – will look back at 2016 and remark: “What the HELL?’
Many felt the same way, but isn’t this event only a turn of the page? Doesn’t the New Year always arrive at our party with ghosts of the old – Destiny, Fate, Kismet? John Lennon knew them all too well all when he quipped that life is what happens when you’re planning something else.
A few days before the end of the year, a relative who had only just survived a very rough 2016 in his retailing business, sounded upbeat about the chances of his business turning the corner profitably over the Christmas season. Then:
The date: December 30. The place: Melbourne. The event: a once in a 100- year-old flood which sent all his projections down the drain. Kismet and all. Or another place and time: Istanbul, on New Year’s Eve with celebrations cut short by another slaughter of partying innocents.
So back to those diaries. As soon as they arrived, we sat down and coloured in the future with birthdays, anniversaries and appointments – the routines of diarists everywhere. Just like the crowds celebrating New Year’s Eve near Sky Tower in Auckland and elsewhere, it was done with expectations – against all the evidence – that this new year, would somehow be not only be different, but better.
Maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps one endorsement of our hopeful forward-looking, hopeful selves lies in the realization that we have only one life. And so we happily itemise our tomorrows and why not. We’d already wished each other and the world a Happy New Year…. was that wish also a prayer to the Fates?