When midnight strikes tonight, each part of the world where it hits will begin a new year as we humans reckon time. For 24 hours starting at the International Date Line, there will be successions of celebrations greeting 2014.
Many of us see this as a blank slate, a reboot — a popular movie term these days that shows just how ingrained computers are in our lives. The fireworks that will mark the occasion in a number of places mark the explosive entrance of a new day, one for which no history has been written and endless possibilities await.
It will be a time of making resolutions, despite the overwhelming evidence that they will be, at best, short-lived. It will be a time for hoping to put unpleasantness behind us and hoping that each of the 364 tomorrows that will Jan. 1 will be better than the last.
But soon enough we’ll discover that 2014 will present its own challenges. And we will learn, once again, that there is no such thing as a reboot in real life. Choices we made, ideas we birthed, words that we spoke and wrote, and images we saw have not disappeared like the will o’ the wisp. Whatever foundation we built in 2013 and the years preceding it is the foundation on which we will stand and continue to build upon in the new year.
The truth is, Jan. 1 is no more significant than any other day of the year, except for the meaning we have given it. We have broken our breaths and steps into measurable increments, creating a way to inventory our lives. We appoint New Year’s as the time when we examine a year’s worth of accomplishments and failures, happiness and sadness, creation and destruction. We think of those we love and those we miss, whether because of distance or death. We wistfully recall wonderful memories and try not to think of those that were not.
And we hope.
We hope that we can avoid repeating our mistakes and failures. We hope that we can experience more of the successes and happy times we enjoyed.
Life, however, is a tapestry of experiences, some good and some bad. The year 2014, when it is over and chronicled, will be no different from any year that preceded it.
Benjamin Franklin, upon an inquiry about his health, once said that with long life, one must expect to encounter some of the dregs. He also made an observation that is as profound as it is simple: “Lost time is never found again.”
Indeed, however the year turns out, whatever failures we endure or successes we enjoy, the important thing is to ensure that we don’t waste a single moment of this God-given gift of existence. Our greatest hope should be that when the next New Year’s Eve rolls around, we can look back on these days that we then will refer to collectively as 2014 and be proud that we squeezed every last ounce of life out of them.
— The Albany Herald Editorial Board