Saturday, December 31, 2011
New Years Eve (Why We Celebrate)
It's New Years Eve. I like this holiday. At the surface, it's just a chance to get into a big group of people and shout and drink and kiss each other. The true essence of the holiday, as is the case with most holidays, is so quickly lost in the actualization of the celebration of that holiday. I saw it a lot in Spain. Whatever was being celebrated was not overtly expressed or revered, for the most part. We need to celebrate, I think. it's so natural to get lost in it. Nochevieja Universitara was such a silly premise: a New Year's Eve style celebration for the end of finals for the semester. It had the feeling of being a celebration for celebration's sake. The San Fermin festival in Pamplona, though I never saw it first hand, seemed less about celebrating the accomplishments of San Fermin that the ceremonies commemorate, and more about getting into a crowded street and running away from bulls. Christmas, Thanksgiving, all seem so hype-driven; so much more about being part of the experience of what the celebration of the holiday looks like, and less about the birth of Christ or the acknowledgement of what we're thankful for. I don't mean to condemn this pattern at all. I think it makes a lot of sense, given the make up of our souls and our understanding of the world around us. We crave family, we crave friends, we crave being surrounded by people and forgetting the haunting reality of our failures and fears. I mean, we mourn a lot over the course of the year, what with our broken relationships and our inconsistencies and the feeling that the world is slowly dying. So, of course we are going to take our opportunities to celebrate. There's beauty in that idea. And, i don't think that it diminishes those events or people that we are setting out to honor and commemorate. Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington, Veterans, Mothers, Fathers, the pilgrim's landing at Plymouth Rock, the Declaration of Independence; they are all immortalized in our celebrations of them. They are assigned a greater value than the ones inherent. For, they give us a chance to find equilibrium. They give us an opportunity to hold hands with one another, to embrace strangers, to tell family that we love them. They represent the actualization of the balance that we are all searching for; death to life, darkness to light. Through our celebrations, we can actively participate in being made right. And, as the hours count down to January 1st, 2012, I want to participate in that actualization myself. For there is plenty of darkness and death that I've participated in this year. There is plenty of failure and regret. But tonight, we celebrate things becoming new. We celebrate, in our awkward and primitive customs, that there is hope. 2012 will know plenty of hope and regret, life and death, truth and lies, just as 2011 did. But our hearts cry out for that blank rap sheet, for that being made new. And tonight, we will celebrate our being made new.