Why? Because it’s just a number, this New Year’s Day included. Being another year older and wiser, I have come to realize that my stress with the approaching new year has been not my lack of accomplishment, but the setup of Jan. 1 as an unwinnable ideal, a shining magical starting line for a new life. Yet year after year, we wake up and discover it is just another day. No cheering section, no confetti, and the brass band I hear is my son practising his trumpet, achieving his dream not because of the date, but because he’s working at it every day.
I remember oh so clearly the Y2K craze, except at the time it was unfolding, it was a very real fear. We were told over and over by a range of experts that the world’s computers were not equipped for dates beyond the year 1999. As a result, on Jan. 1, 2000, computers would crash, power stations would cease to function, automated systems would go dark … technical Armageddon. In our house we installed an alternate heat source, stockpiled food, backed up our computers, then on New Years Eve we kissed out infant son in his crib and prayed we would see morning light. As we all know, the day dawned with not a bloody thing different. Everything worked, includding my aged fax machine. The date was just a number: a concrete place for our fears, but far from an accurate picture of things to come.
It is said numbers don’t lie, but they sure as hell fib by omission and fuel decisions with the compassion and insight of a sack of stones. The real conflict each New Year’s? Humans crave the safety of numbers, yet are designed to think, feel and act ‘outside the box.’ A fresh year promises a new world where the human spirit can soar, yet it is hemmed in by promises built on numbers that don’t move, see, feel, think or provide anything other than cold, hard judgement, such as:
a person’s health and beauty by their weight
an author’s talent by number of books sold
a human’s worth by their bank balance
a job’s quality by the salary
the depth of love by the number of presents, or the size of the diamond
Well, screw that, is my resolution number one this year. Numbers have their place. We need quantity to make sound decisions. But, we need context, too, and the ability to know, feel, own and act on what is good for us beyond the numerical scale. A 2,000 calorie a day diet may remove some pounds, but without the context of body type, metabolism, personal goals and type of food, it could turn a plump healthy body into a ravaged unbalanced vessel. Some of the world’s best storytellers and harbingers of history have never made the bestseller list. And some of the best resolutions have not started on Jan. 1, which in itself is just a number, and a cultural variant at that. Chinese New Year is Jan. 28 in 2017. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is in September. In some Christian faiths, Christmas isn’t over until Epiphany, celebrated the first Sunday in January after New Years Day.
So, Jan. 1 for me is another day – a great day of opportunity, choice, and action. But so will be Jan. 2, Jan 24, Feb 8, and every day before, between and after. Each day is a gift. Treat it as such, rather than a deadline. That is where the magic lies, in our choices, and knowing who we are and what we want, beyond the numbers.
Here’s to an awesome 2017, one day at a time.
Jennifer Hatt is author of the Finding Maria series and a partner in Marechal Media Inc. See more at www.FindingMaria.com.