New Year’s resolutions have been around since the time of the ancient Babylonians, who bartered with the gods to win favor in the new year. Apparently, not much has changed! People remain swayed by the fallacy that resolving to do better, to be better, in the next twelve months grants the well-intentioned a brand, new beginning. Don’t bother making New Year’s resolutions or toasting a new start. There’s no such thing as a clean slate; old baggage travels with us. We can’t move forward if we don’t understand what has already been. New Years, then, should be more about introspection and reevaluation than making silly promises or banging pots in the street at midnight. The year drawing to a close should remind us to reflect upon the previous days and reassess the path we are on.
2015 was a harsh year for me. I learned firsthand how pain can beat a person down and later watched helplessly while those I love learned the same. I learned the gentle love of a pet all too soon becomes a memory. I learned I can miss a family member I hardly knew and mourn time with them forever lost. I’ve learned I’m stronger than I knew and weaker than I want to be. Most importantly, I’ve learned the precarious nature of humanity. Life changes from one minute to the next with inconsistencies that are harder to accept as I age. Ironically, life does not slow down while I adjust to bumps in the road. It charges forward. I’ve learned all I can do is try to keep up.
The poet, John Donne (1572-1631), was correct. No man is an island. Though I sometimes wish I existed in an impenetrable bubble, and try as I might to close my eyes to the ugliness in the world, human dreck will not be ignored. Whether it’s the terror of Isis in the Middle East, bombings in Paris, jetliners crashing in the French Alps, dead refugees washing ashore, or the on-air murder of innocent journalists, each life lost and each tragedy is felt on some level. We are all part of the collective, a very small part of a broader picture we can only try to comprehend. Thus, as 2015 fades away (goodbye and good riddance!), at the risk of waxing philosophical, I leave you with the words of John Donne in the hope that, going forward, we will be mindful of how very small we are and how very much we need one another.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.