We’re glad you’re here. We’ve been expecting you.
Don’t mind all the explosions, light shows, dropping of large glitter balls, silly hats, Pitbull performances, excessive drinking, drunken driving, and needless screams of “woooo!” I know they seem to suggest we think you’re something especially wonderful, but in fact we do that stuff for every new year that shows up. So insistent is the tradition that its recurrence has even become something of a problem, especially for our police officers and pets.
Anyway, we’re too smart to really believe that last night had much to do with today, much less with all the days that will follow. We know that the actual quality of our time with you will have nothing to do with the manner in which we marked your arrival. That initial burst of excitement is too much to sustain. They’re sweeping up the last few strands of confetti in Times Square as we speak. New Year’s Eve revelers are waking up with New Year’s Day hangovers, thinking “shit.”
You don’t arrive just once, do you, 2016? You arrive 366 mornings in a row, every day a new chance. That’s not the end of it, either. Within the day there are hours and within the hours there are minutes, as you well know. Within the minutes there are moments, flashes of insight and possibility and connection. You know that, too.
We had better settle in for the long haul with you, hadn’t we, 2016? Maybe if we treated this more like a relationship we’ll be building for some time than a wishing well to cast our vainest hopes into once a year, we wouldn’t be so eager to discard one year by the time the next comes around. What I’m suggesting, 2016, is that some of the overblown greeting we gave you is less about you and more about making a big show of kicking 2015 to the curb.
And what did 2015 – your friend, perhaps – do to disappoint and offend us so gravely? Not much, really. He just failed to live up to all the unfulfilled hopes of 2014 we had projected onto him. And 2014 – perhaps you know her too? – scarcely had a chance, what with all the baggage left by 2013. And so it goes, ever backward and ever forward. We treat each new year cruelly. We expect too much of it at the beginning, do too little in the middle to help it bring about whatever changes we claim to desire, and are fed up by its impertinence by December 31st. We welcome its successor heartily, sure that this one will prove more agreeable.
We’ll be fed up with you too, 2016. In 365 short days, we’ll have had quite enough. I speak collectively, of course. Those strange, untouchable overachievers on an ever-upward trajectory will adore you, just as they’ve adored every other year full of accomplishments and life milestones that have sent them bounding toward the next. But most of us travel more circuitous routes and have a more complicated relationship to the passage of time, and you will certainly be on the receiving end of our ire sooner or later. When that happens, don’t take it personally. It’s our problem, not yours. We do this to ourselves, then blame you for it.
Hey, who knows? Maybe those of us who did not over-celebrate your arrival or over-invest the event with promise you never asked for will not over-blame you when things don’t go exactly as we wished they might.
We’re glad you’re here. We hope you enjoyed your welcome party. Fireworks and glitter balls and spectacle will always hold their appeal. But here at the cool, reasonable dawn of a new year, we know that the quality of our time with you will have more to do with how we conduct ourselves and what we choose to focus on in a quiet, unsexy, unpretentious, day-to-day way.
Pleasure to meet you. Let’s get to work.