Every year is a stepping stone, and we always like to think that we’ve moved up. Sometimes the steps are steep, crooked or a little unstable. Sometimes we think we’re going to fall and slip through the cracks. Of course we never do, every year we grow and learn a little more - and the sad truth is that we don’t always come out of them better people, but we always come out of them a fraction wiser. Hopefully, we take those lessons we learn to make the next year better than the last.
It never really feels like we grow though. When the year’s a rough one, all the rough patches make it feel like we’ve taken a step back - a wasted year perhaps, like it would’ve been better if we hadn’t lived it at all. It feels like we did fall through the cracks.
2013 was a bit like that for me. It’s 11pm and I’m sitting in the heart of Chinatown penning these little thoughts because I don’t want to go home. Because home is too comforting - there’s no summer nights chill, no drunken Monday night nomads and no odd flickering street lanterns to distract me from the fact that I have nothing figured out and that I’ve hardly solved any of the problems from a year ago. Maybe I’ve even given myself some new ones. No matter what I do, nothing changes the fact that I’m sitting here, alone in the middle of everything, looking back 365 days and realising that I’m no better. That I’ve moved miles in a year but remain right where I started.
But it’s shockingly ungrateful of me to treat 2013 like a waste of time. It tried so hard sometimes and many times the world was kind enough to reward it for its efforts. I played in a band, I ran a mock business, got over a girl and met a new one. 2013 had its moments and these moments alone certainly make 2013 a worthwhile year. Sadly though, I’m not immensely proud of anything achieved this year, not because I didn’t achieve anything but because I had bigger things in mind at this exact time last year. 2013, a year relegated to deserved mediocrity.
I guess that illustrates the power of the underlying economics of society, and how fairly it actually treats people. We get out what we are willing to put in. Society reward hard workers, sooner or later. Society rewards nice people, compassionate people. The year treats you well if you give it enough to work with, and demand it do something with it. Maybe the accolades don’t come immediately, but it’s a test of character as much as it is of merit. The world rewards noble pursuit as much as it rewards patience and perseverance.
That’s the biggest lesson I’ll take out of 2013. It’s a powerful one, derived from a year of jubilation, disappointment and a constant, lingering anticlimax. Hopefully it will give me the strength to become person I want to be, or at least the security to be comfortable with not being what society seems to want to mould me into, a sculpture that will never fully resemble my shape. Hopefully it gives me the resolve to fight the animals within me shackling me to the constant, mundane disappointment of my mental state. They’re getting old. Hopefully it gives me the courage to never let go of the people who matter regardless of how much of a struggle it is to hold onto them, and to let go of those who don’t. Even if the people that matter only number 3, or 2, or 1. Or even none, it’s never too late to start again.
So my New Year’s resolution isn’t really anything this year. Nothing specific, because I guess I’ve come to the realisation that the crushing ritual of New Years Eve evaluation is a poor but acceptable excuse to change and do things that we should be doing all the time.
So I don’t have one, not really. If anybody asks maybe I’ll tell them that it’s just to be a better me. Not a version of me that is easy for other people to appreciate, but one that I can love. Because there are many important people in our lives, but none more so than ourselves. For years, I’ve neglected my most important love affair. It’s battered, bruised and broken in so many ways, but I thank my lucky stars that this is one that will never leave me.
Or maybe, the goal is to create a version of me that is essentially capable of loving itself in the first place, regardless of whatever that person is. Or maybe it’s a bit of both.
But this is not a New Year’s resolution, because this journey never starts and it never ends. The perennial love story perhaps. Thank you 2013 for all that you’ve given me, all that you taught me and all that you kept from me. And 2014, I don’t know what you’re going to be like - whether you’ll be my friend or my enemy, let’s hope it’s the former - but thanks for the mad invitation anyway.