Right so here it is.
It’s ‘that time of year again’. Or to be specific, it’s reaching the end of the year (again).
I started this post with the honest intention of having a round up of recent events, a quick clean up/organisational activity as it were, to create a clean slate on which to start the new year. Whilst that is still something which I aim to achieve before Sunday (I am a bit of a perfectionist in the whole keeping things tidy thing – believe it or not) I’ve found myself very much needing to get something off my chest.
As the year comes to an end, you’ve doubtless seen hundreds of posts popping up on your news feed with a brief summary of how the past twelve months have played out for each individual, accompanied by a bold sweeping statement about what it is one is going to do differently next year in order to make things ‘better’. What’s more is that this year, there have been some truly shocking global events, some outrageous and heart breaking acts of cruelty, and the loss of some truly incredible individuals who have been inspirational and influential to so many people. The media is having an absolute field day with branding 2016 a ‘terrible’ year, and hundreds of thousands of people have liked and shared articles stating that the end of 2016 can’t come quickly enough.
But I think we need to think a little more carefully before we start talking like that.
I was about to launch into a full blown rant here about all the things I am coming to dislike about a technology driven society. About the incredible irony surrounding the destruction of society by a tool designed to bring people together. About people sharing things blindly without checking sources first, or even without reading things properly or thinking about the impact sharing such things may have. And about people genuinely believing that by doing so they are ‘playing their part’ and making a difference.
However, I quickly realised that there are other people already writing about such things, and doing so much more eloquently (and knowledgeably) than I can. I also questioned who am I to tell people what to do – we all have a responsibility to be considerate and thoughtful about how we treat other people, and as telling people what to do doesn’t really fit into either of those things, I won’t start to do so.
What I will say though is that life really is a gift.
We could sit here and dwell on the fact that 2016 hasn’t been the best of years. We could moan and wish the final few days of 2016 away. But if this is the attitude we chose to possess, it is more than likely that 2017 will end in a very similar way, and the cycle will begin again.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that the world isn’t a horrible place. To me, society seems to be crumbling everywhere we look. Humans are starting to care more about things and less about what is important. Greed is becoming more and more evident and selfishness seems to have no boundaries. The world is a scary place, and humans seem to be willing to do awful things to each other, which is terrible. Terrible, scary and downright disturbing at times. But, it all comes back to what I just said, life is a gift.
Every day which we spend conscious and breathing on this earth truly is a gift.
Recently I have been getting myself down because I feel like there is very little impact that I personally can make in this modern world. But maybe it is not about having an impact. If we are to all strive to make an impact, conflict is bound to arise somewhere, as every tiny difference would be lost in a sea of difference, but people would still want to be noticed.
As individuals, there is arguably very little we can do on a global stage, and so maybe that’s not where our focus should lie. In the grand scheme of things, externally, we can make little difference. But internally, we can make all the difference in the world.
As the year comes to a close it is only natural to look back on the events of the year. It is important to pay respects to all those people who will never see 2017 (of course) but it is also important not to write off a whole year because of all the bad things that have happened.
The notion that ‘2016 has to end’ and that we need to move on to a new year is (in my opinion) ridiculous. Everything bad that has happened this year doesn’t just disappear with the rolling round of a new calendar. It is so easy to forget this when your knowledge of global events is founded on what you have read in the paper that morning, or on the internet through the day. Think of the families who have been involved in tragic events this year – they aren’t going to be miraculously happy come January 1st. Think of those suffering from illness, they won’t be miraculously cured come January 1st. Think of the millions of people displaced by conflict which they never asked for… I could go on but my point still stands – none of these people will suddenly forget what they have been through or what they are still going through at the start of the new year, and for us to mindlessly suggest they will by sharing that 2016 ‘has to end’ just reflects how incredibly desensitised and (I would argue) de-humanised we have become.
So what is my point – you are probably wondering. I’m not here to argue against reflecting on 2016, on celebrating your successes, on remembering loved ones, or of setting goals for the following year – these are all brilliant things to do in my opinion.
I am instead asking you to think a little differently and not to get caught up in a pseudo reality world whereby we spread the illusion that we can just wipe our hands of 2016 and move on to better things.
When looking back at your year don’t think about all the things that have gone wrong, think about all the things that went well. All the things you did right. And all the things you are grateful for. Every day is a day of opportunities. A day for you to experience something new, to make more memories, to do something to help someone else, to make someone smile, or just to sit and take time for yourself, to enjoy the little things and to cherish just being here. That is the important thing that is often missed.
I personally am not wishing the end of 2016 away, but instead choosing to make the most of every last minute. And that is what I plan to do next year too.
I will take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy new year, but also just happiness in general.
Prepare for the most clichéd reference I will ever make.
Come January, try to think of the new year of less of a clean slate, and more of a new row of stones added to the foundations of the wall which you’ve steadily crafted throughout your life. Or (for the foodies) a new layer of sponge on the giant cake of life. This way, we can accept that things may have gone a little pear shaped in places, we can’t just ignore them, but we can do our best to repair them/patch them up as we continue to build upwards. It also forces you to recognise all the things you have achieved so far as these are the foundations from which you are marching onwards into 2017.
Basically, what I am trying to say is that we all have something to be proud of and something to build upon. Yes look forward to the new year, but remember to make the most of every moment until then. Because (and yes I really am going to say it again), life is a gift and we ought not to waste it.