Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone. It's that time again - a clean slate, fresh start, new beginning. A day that is more philosophical than it is rooted in any calendar. After all, January 1st means pretty much jack squat in the natural world. Thousands of years ago, the Babylonians would celebrate the new year at the spring solstice, which makes more sense if it's rebirth and renewal we're after.
Either way, January 1st has become our new beginning. Philosophically, we make it into a starting point, as if time stopped here for a moment, contemplated its existence, then continued on. We make it a time to reflect on what we'd like to see differently in the year to come: lose a few pounds, quit smoking, fix your marriage, be more assertive, etc. We mark it as the day to begin to change, to become better. While that's admirable, research suggests that most new years resolutions fail within the first month.
Do we aim too high? Is our philosophical musing on this specific time debunked by our natural rhythm declaring nothing radical has changed? Do we merely slip back into "life" once we've exhausted the "Happy New Year" greetings?
My hypothesis: we're lazy, unaccountable and impatient. Not a very festive outlook, I know. Let's say you want to lose weight, the most popular resolution. You pay to join a gym or buy a new pair of sneaks, pump yourself up and head out tomorrow or next week sometime. Only problem is, just like with anything in life, the good don't come easy. The gym's too crowded and someone stole the other 5lb weight you need. You can only run to the end of the block and you feel defeated. You rush home to see if you've lost any weight and of course, you haven't. You start googling weight loss remedies and find a really convincing one that promises a Gisele Bundchen frame for two pills a day and no exercise. Sweet. You buy it. It doesn't work. You try the next gadget, or the next gizmo, continuously avoiding the truth that the only way to lose weight is to get up off your ass, eat right and stick to it with some determination and grit.
Ironically, that same mentality could be used to discuss the coming year in politics and social issues. We want things to change but we don't want to have to work for them, we want them to happen five minutes ago and when they don't, it's everyone's fault but ours. Hmmmm, tricky to effect change with that attitude.
Instead, wouldn't it make more sense if we went out and did something about it. After all, as far as I know, no one ever dropped pounds by complaining about them. And oh we excel at bitching about government. One might even say it's a national past time. But in the past generation, we've lost our drive, our go-get-'em attitude. When was the last time anyone went to or organized a protest? When was the last time anyone saw one or heard of one? In the cluster fuck world we live in and our increasingly precarious role in it, we should be filling streets, selling out on poster board, clogging phone lines in Washington.
That takes dedication tho. It requires will power and determination. Do we have that? Can we unclog our minds like we aspire to unclog our arteries? Can we move beyond that trip step first month and on to real change?
As with any new years resolution, it starts with an idea which moves to the action part of your brain causing you to google something, search for a group, a movement or fuck, start your own. And continue to climb that proverbial ladder of resolution until things start to change. Do not give up because it's hard. If it's hard, it's worth it.
It's your mind, your country, your future.
I wish you all the happiest of years...Do something.