So This is the New Year

One of my favorite songs at the end of every year is “The New Year” by Death Cab for Cutie. So I am dedicating this post to my thoughts on what I think is one of the best observations on the yearly calendar roll over.

So this is the new year
And I don’t feel any different
The clanking of crystal
Explosions off in the distance

Come 12:01 a.m. January 1, 2017 we are somehow new again. Personally, of all the new years I have experienced on this earth, I have never gotten the fever and excitement of a new year. I get it, new start, new beginning, etc. etc. but what’s the real difference?

So this is the new year
And I have no resolutions
For self assigned penance
For problems with easy solutions

This is the verse that I love the most. You would think the way the world cheers and celebrates that all problems are magically solved come 12 midnight on January 1. From reading on Facebook, most people I know think celebrities will supernaturally stop dying as soon as 2017 starts.

In “The Atheist Christmas Carol” Vienna Teng sings “it’s the season of possible miracle cures, where hope is currency…” and really, isn’t it true? Everyone has a charity, a food drive, an outreach between Thanksgiving and December 31. Because of the calendar date, we all set aside differences, and wars call truces in the name of Christmas. The solutions to all problems seem easy and simple, black and white, all it needs is someone to care.

It’s a nice thought, but unrealistic. Come January 2 we are all the same as we always were, maybe a little nicer, a little more circumspect…for a few weeks. But by February 14 we are focused again on those we love, and less on those we ignore. Isn’t that what most of us have? Those we love and those we ignore. When we notice them between Thanksgiving and Christmas, charities and churches take in almost 20% of their total donations for the year. Imagine if we loved more the other 11 months of the year. What would have easy solutions then?

So everybody put your best suit or dress on
Let’s make believe that we are wealthy for just this once
Lighting firecrackers off on the front lawn
As thirty dialogues bleed into one

I just got an email from a dress company promising “Free overnight shipping for you to shine on New Year’s Eve!” My favorite are the $1000+ dresses available to rent on sites online; the very essence of “make believe that we are wealthy.” It’s fun to dress up on occasion. Our society has greatly diminished the number of occasions one has to dress up for, and even when there is a reason to dress up, you know there will always be someone that shows up in jeans or flip flops. If New Year’s Eve motivates you to go formal, go all out. Don’t be the flip flops guy.

I wish the world was flat like the old days
Then I could travel just by folding a map
No more airplanes, or speed trains, or freeways
There’d be no distance that can hold us back

I have often wondered, as we continually read about escalating conflicts, wars, rumors of wars, cold wars, has the world always been this chaotic? Or are we just so connected now that we hear more, and faster, about the same amount of chaos that there has always been?

The more connected we get, the more distance we put between us. While it’s great that I can still be friends with people I haven’t seen in years via Facebook, I am also guilty of only having a very few people I actually make the effort to see in person. A status update, an emoji, a picture of their perfect family–we are the snapshot generation.

So this is the New Year. I am trying to feel different. I won’t be clanking crystal. But I’m sure there will be explosions off in the distance (or in the closeness if the giant fireworks stand down the road does a good business).

The New Year is a blessing. If it represents a fresh start for you, then make the most of it. If it spurs you to make a positive change in your life, I pray your resolution becomes a lifestyle.

Hope. And as the distance grows between us geographically, ideologically, politically, and emotionally, it does become our currency as we enter 2017. May our resolution be that there is no distance that can hold us back.

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