I was at the gym on Monday night, which is the only reason why I was able to watch 60 Minutes on television (I don’t own one).
My eye was caught by the fluttering of something colorful across the screen. After the usual gloom and doom, this segment featured a group of extreme sports enthusiasts referring to themselves as “The Birdmen” who jump off high mountain peaks in specially-made suits that resemble flying squirrels—and fly. I want to say that they soared through the air and down the canyon, but really they raced, gathering up speeds of 150 mph with nothing between them and the rocks but air and a little bit of nylon.
It was exhilarating (I almost started cheering for them from my elliptical machine). A palpable sense of freedom could be felt just watching this beautiful, unassisted human flight. Tears actually filled my eyes.
Then…came the commentary of Andy Rooney. Since this would be the last show before the new year, New Year’s Eve was his topic. And true to form, he complained; bitterly. He starts:
“The idea of the year 2010 doesn’t do much to me. It seems like a nice, even round number. But those of us who hate New Year’s Eve and the necessity it brings with it to have fun are looking forward to New Year’s Day, when New Year’s Eve will finally be over.”
Really, Andy? Is it that bad? It’s only one night. He kvetched about the societal pressures to go out and have fun when he’d rather stay home alone reflecting on what he did not get done this year and what he will not accomplish in the next. I got the feeling that he felt trapped by all these expectations of others and that he would be comforted by the familiar feeling of un-accomplishment and self-loathing.
Quite a drastic turn from the freedom I’d witnessed just minutes before! It made me think of how many people must be feeling like Andy, who respond to NYE in the same way every year: go to a party everyone expects you to go to and hate it, indulge in food and drink to make yourself feel better, feel bad about over-indulging, then wake up in the morning feeling defeated…to greet the new year.
Well Andy and all you other NYE kvetches—I challenge you! Break your pattern, and ring in the new year with some equanimity. You don’t have to celebrate. You don’t even have to have an inkling of positivity. Just drop your judgement about what may or may not have happened this year and what may or may not happen in the next. Ignore the expectations of others on this eve.
This holiday is meant to be one of personal meaning, but how it gets played out is a big setup to be let down by unreasonable hopes and expectations. Be a rebel tonight and do exactly what you want, feel exactly what you feel, and don’t have any guilt about it. Quietly reflect on what this past year brought. What did you learn? Try to hold a few moments in contemplation that you are still here and that all the moments leading up to this one brought you here–good and bad. Then set a realistic intention for the new year, not a resolution.
Let us know how that went for you.
I wish you all a Joyous and Prosperous New Year! ~jen murphy
published by elephantjournal.com on Dec 31, 2009