January 1, 2009

And There Goes the Other One

With a great howling of arctic winds the door did firmly and with great malice aforethought hit 2008 on the ass on its way out. Suck it, 2008.

Each year I watch the clock tick over and wonder at the power that such an arbitrary division of time can wield over us — as a species, as a culture, and as individuals. Whether the occasion sends you into paroxysms of ecstatic celebration, be they pantomimed or genuine, or leaves you dreading the highs and hells that the coming calendar year has laid out for you as you bob inexorably across the endlessly undulating virgin wilderness of time, its emotional effects leave little doubt of the power that even the simplest of rituals has tucked away behind folds we can't begin to fathom.

What I think many people often forget — myself included — is that we needn't remain slaves to old routines that don't produce the results we're after. Granted, much of the flow of our lives might seem maddeningly out of our direct control, but our own thoughts and deeds shape us in ways that external forces typically can't without great coordination or spectacular coincidence. It may often be (or at least seem to be) profoundly difficult to change the daily rituals that give our individual lives their true (if usually unobserved) textures, but it can be done. I can't claim to be pleased with the pace at which I've made changes in my own life; nevertheless, I am bringing those changes about.

All of which I suppose sounds pretty optimistic, if not outlandishly charitable, given the suffering the universe allows within its borders. Actually, if you know me personally, you might well be inclined to wonder if I'm being facetious. I swear, I'm truly not. I'm not blind, mind you — I know 2009 will inevitably have at least its share of tragedies and disappointments — but as the clock ticks over my chief resolution is to work hard to minimize the negative impact of the defeats, and allow myself to celebrate the victories.

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