I guess the reason why we welcome the New Year so enthusiastically when nothing is new about it except the date on the calendar, is because it is an affirmation of our hope for a better tomorrow.
A New Year, with 366 days has just begun – 2016 is a Leap Year, remember? As on every New Year’s Day, we wish each other a happy year ahead; go to the temple; take the blessings of elders; try to spend our time with family and friends and look forward to the unfolding year in a very happy, positive and hopeful frame of mind.
Many of us also make resolutions to do this and that, correct mistakes, improve ourselves, take that holiday, visit friends in another city or join a course that we have always wanted to. Most importantly we review the year just ended and list our accomplishments and disappointments, memorable moments and so on.
Now, let us take each day as a unit of time. If you think about it, it is actually the first day of the rest of our lives. So what it means in effect is that we can have a New Year’s Day every day of our lives! It stands to reason then that we do whatever we do on New Year’s Eve every single day. Well just imagine how wonderful it would be if we could greet everyone with joy and hope, try to stay connected to those we love, make efforts to complete a task and so on and so forth every day!
Why this exercise, you ask me?
I’m sure you will agree with me that with age and wisdom come the realisation of one’s mortality and the fleeting away of time. Note that I say ‘realisation’, meaning every human being is mortal, only we don’t see it in the swagger and confidence of youth. So I feel that a year is a long period to wait to do a review, especially if there has been a hard phase. So breaking up the year into small bits – of one day’s duration — makes sense, doesn’t it?
I am reminded here of a children’s story Help! I am trapped in the first day of school! by Todd Strasser, where a schoolboy wakes up to his first day of school for days on end, till he gets to a perfect day, where he does all the right things and behaves impeccably. And finally the next day he wakes up to the second day of school. And then there was the movie, Groundhog Day, which has the weatherman Bill Murray living in a time loop for days till he manages to figure out the priorities in his life and make amends. How wonderful it would be if we could get such a chance at least once in a lifetime!
Since such things are bound to remain a fantasy, confined to books and movies, why not give ourselves a second chance, not every year, but every day by doing a review? Just as in a yearly review, one goes over the happenings of the previous day and tries to assimilate the lessons learnt (hopefully we learn them!) and being thankful for the good things and the achievement of that day – in the process putting some things right.
When we begin to do this exercise, every day becomes the first day of the rest of our lives. The very fact that we have woken up in the morning means that we have been given another chance to live life differently and better than the previous day and the succession of days become an opportunity to improving ourselves as human beings. It makes it easier doesn’t it, instead having to wait a whole year?
What is more, one need not have grey hair to come to this realisation. Everyone out there reading this post can begin today, this first day of 2016.
Go on, give yourself a gift of 24 hours every day for the rest of your lives.
And now for some trivia: While there are any number of New Year’s Days around the world including India, January 1 is the globally accepted one. One of the reasons behind choosing this date has to do with the two-faced ancient Roman god of beginnings, Janus. Of the two faces, one looks ahead and the other looks behind, symbolizing the past and the future. The month itself is named after Janus too. I find this symbolism quite apt, for even while looking ahead, we have to hark back to the past, its memories, history, and its lessons.
A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU!
(And remember to wish yourself every day this year, ok?)
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