APOLOGIES FOR THE LACK OF NEW YEARS FIREWORKS here at casaCARA. Know that I wish you all good things (and nothing but) in 2011, but I have a hard time working up genuine enthusiasm for the changeover of the Roman calendar from December to January. New Years Eve has always felt arbitrary to me. The real new year is in spring, as far as I’m concerned, at the start of the gardening season, when all is green and fresh, and the constellations begin another turn around the heavens. My birthday is in early April, so that clinches it for me.
September is another pretty good New Years candidate, when the world again feels reborn. However long it’s been since school days, there’s still a residual rush of excitement and hope like the one that always accompanied the start of each new term. And the Jewish New Year in autumn, with its ritual chest-beating and long period of self-evaluation, carries much more spiritual weight for me than the secular resolutions (lose 10 pounds again) I tend to make in January.
I find January a distant, anticlimactic third as far as New Years go. It feels manufactured. Nothing really changes, except things having to do with tax preparation. January 1 brings to an end one year of record-keeping and ushers in another. Whoopee.
That curmudgeonly said, in the past I’ve always made some effort to celebrate, to do something, go somewhere. Last night, New Years Eve 2011, was the quietest I’ve ever spent. On the heels of a medical scare (a bad reaction to a drug intended to bring my blood pressure down — instead it went up), I was alone in my Brooklyn apartment, lying on the sofa with Keith Richards’ new autobiography, listening to jazz radio, a cup of tea by my side.
Celebratory it wasn’t, but I was suffused with well-being and gratitude, feeling lucky I didn’t have a stroke, and that I didn’t have any elaborate New Years Eve plans to cancel. I talked to one child, texted with another, got emails from a few old friends. I basked in the yellow-painted glow of my new apartment, above, surrounded by things that spent 18 months in storage and that I’m very happy to see again.
Still, in an effort to get with the New Year program, let me share something I re-discovered in the course of my recent move: a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, now stuck to my refrigerator door (change “day” to “year” if you wish):
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. Begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.”
If that isn’t wise counsel for the coming year, I don’t know what is.