For some of us, indeed, for many more of us than can easily afford to acknowledge it without further loss of equanimity at least and happiness at most, this is a very sad time of year. In fact, it’s no time of year at all, it’s the end of the year, and the New Year, with all its happiness derived in part from alcoholic bubbles and party snacks hasn’t started yet (or at least, it’s a few hours off in some parts of the globe, only a few hours old and hence not really fully underway in other parts of the globe). So what do we do? We rush out, buy the aforesaid snacks and alcohol, and then sit around waiting for time to start our eager consumption of what is supposed to signal a celebration of ringing out the old and ringing in the new. We may even think of a New Year’s resolution or two, but then we tell ourselves that after all, that’s for the first of the year (tomorrow) and shouldn’t cloud our enjoyment of the last day of this year, when we hope to really “tie one on” and watch the bright lights go up around our neighborhoods, or watch a good movie and have a good cry, or go to the local neighborhood party and wear a funny hat and embrace people under the mistletoe for the last time this season.
And we ask ourselves, “What would really make me happy this year? What would I like to achieve, or have, or have happen to me?” It’s not in fact that we can’t think of things, for we of course can. It’s rather that the things we think of are far too often not commensurable with the same sorts of things that can be achieved or had or experienced if we make a “realistic” New Year’s resolution. For we all know what those things are. I can work a little harder each day, or I can vow to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year, or I can save up a few extra dollars in order to get something I really want, but for which I will have to deprive myself of other things I need or want. In short, everything we can realistically get takes a lot of effort, a constant push or pull or force exerted on our own moral inertia to accomplish. So, often we decide, “Why should I? I’ll worry about it tomorrow. I’ll start on it two days from now. Next week, when I’ve cleaned up the mess from this party I’m supposed to be having, will be time enough to begin.” And in short, we put it off and sooner or later it simply slips to the back of the mental cupboard with all of the other things we once hoped to do and have and be. Aren’t we a real mess?
Do I have an answer for this dilemma? No, I do not, but I can tell you that I for one would rather “dream dreams” and “have visions” than place myself mentally in that “realistic” framework which we assume when we set about to do things “for real.” I would rather not set goals, but would like to huggle-muggle willy-nilly toward what I want, one day sighing and one day crying, and another day laughing for joy because it seems that the sun is shining on my aspiration. That way, when I reach next New Year’s Eve and I have only a bit of success to show, or a pittance of my desired amount saved up, or have only taken off ten pounds, I will know that I did it easily rather than arduously, and thus I participated in the glee of childhood we all once used to have, when we were unaware of how hard adults often had to strive to gain for us our “power of positive thinking” and to keep us happy and healthy. Yes, I’m saying that I want something to happen easily and without effort, that I’m tired of the “no pain, no gain” morality, that at the very least I want to be self-deceived about something that will make me happy rather than deluded about something that makes me sad in the end. Play along with me, won’t you? Be giddy and happy all you like this New Year’s Eve, but don’t come down hard on yourself on January 1 or 2 or even 3 and tell yourself that it’s time to get “back to reality.” Reality as we know it is hard enough: let’s live in the happiness bubble for as long as possible this year, at least when it comes to achievements and goals and our own personal gifts of living happily. Who knows, maybe those “dreams” and “visions” are a little closer than we know! Happy New Year!