On the last night of the year

Certainly, all calendars and all counting systems are arbitrary and inevitably meaningless, but today is December 31st and tonight is New Year’s Eve. One might wax nostalgic or maudlin or sad or happy or whatever, but most of that is meaningless as well. In fact, there is almost no meaning whatsoever in the fact that 2013 comes to a close this evening. I used to dread New Year’s Eve because I couldn’t find the merriment and fun that apparently everyone else felt so strongly. The end of the year also felt a little melancholy to me. I mean, looking at a frozen January from the bottom up seemed no treat–short days and cold nights punctuated with a bunch of snow didn’t seem like anything to look forward to. I never understood the reason to party on New Year’s Eve. Was it happy or sad? Or just what was going on. Were people trying to put something behind them? Or was this some irrational hope that the next year would be a sight better? Most years seem eerily similar, with highs and lows to be expected, so why do people expect anything any different. In the end, poetically, tragically, the changing calendar is a symbol of human hope, the ability to forget the past and to hope for a different future. Perhaps this is our greatest quality as a race–to bounce back from adversity and build a new future in spite of everything that we still drag along in our unopened baggage. Maybe the new year is a time when we dump the baggage, once and for all, and move on.