And soon the clock will strike twelve, fifteen seconds, ten, five, three, and one before you wonder what all-consuming thought will spread through your veins like an epiphany. In the turning of time, the moment suspended before the new year, what will you be thinking about?
For many, perhaps for most, the essence of a warm feeling will find an anchor in another person – it is easier, after all, to believe we have truly lived when we can touch the symbol we choose to designate a full life. Another human being can touch you back, and this unfathomable idea, that home can be a breathing, breaking, and wanting entity is what often punctures our directionless yearning for belonging – to be loved is to come home.
New Years for me is a lot like the promised potential of a first date. You walk into swinging doors with trepid expectations, hoping this time you’ve found a conversation worth continuing. As the promise of a new beginning, that ‘meant to be’ year rings in the distance like the teasing tick of a pocket-watch, you realise that a decision must be made – now, rather than later, 20 seconds to midnight: is this going to be the moment when everything changes? Is this when I become everything I was always meant to be?
I am not a profound person. To the contrary, the endeavour of my small life has been to quietly sneak up behind people and burst their meta-bubbles. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, because a promise made on a forgettable Tuesday afternoon has far more merit than one determined largely by the size of the ribbon tied around it. To live means to start a new year every day of your life.
But I understand, I am after all a flawed human being looking for the spectacular in mismatched socks. I yearn, and hope, and pray to a God I don’t believe in, wish upon a fallen eyelash, cross my fingers when I tell a lie, wait for someone else to pick up the crossing black-cat’s curse, send out a request to the universe at 11:11, see signs in passing metro advertisements selling brands that sound so much like your name but not quite, never quite exactly the same. Every morning, as I walk the street leading to my office, I look out for the brown and white dog in a red sweater. She’s waiting, every day at 8:15am. Sitting perched on the top of the stairs, attentive, ready. I don’t know what it is she’s waiting for, and like all the stories we tell ourselves, I like to pretend that it’s always me. On the days I see her, I know- today everything will be okay.
In the last year I have found myself falling into place, and on tired evenings when I catch my fleeting reflection in the windows of crowded metro compartments, I see a smiling face looking back at me. I wonder when this became my life. But that’s just it, to fall means to slip, without intention or control, and perhaps, endlessly. ‘Into place’ – signifies an end, a comfortable landing for some, a broken leg for others, but still, a boundary wall to crash into. This also means that you weren’t quite ready to be here, right now, the way that you’ve become, and what the world suddenly expected you to be. A series of seemingly random events in your life have led you to this moment, and so much of it my friend, is credited to your clumsy feet. We fall, into accidental purpose, into revolutionary friendships, and warm loves, and exciting adventures, without always knowing if there’s cushioning waiting at the bottom.
And perhaps, that’s what makes me love my life so much – the unpredictability of it. The sudden loss of balance, and the just as sudden, re-stabilising of it. I am, a time traveller, because for the life of me, I cannot seem to remember the things that happened in between the distant past and the immediate present. But I know, that while I am alone on this train platform, buying a cup of tea, a blank ticket in hand, that the place I stumble my way to next, is perhaps already waiting for me to arrive – I just have to be okay with slight delays and twisted ankles.
When the clock strikes twelve, I hope you remember that you don’t have to be lonely, even if you’re alone. Build yourself an armour of all the different kinds of loves in your life – I promise you, when midnight comes, your mother will be worrying if you’re okay. And the best friend you stopped talking to three years ago will send a quiet prayer to the skies in your name. And the work you do, for the world and on yourself, will show – each numberless, quiet, forgotten act of small kindness will collect itself in the palm of your hands as an offering of gratitude. Use it, to shape the world into silhouettes of your childhood dreams. Fight harder for the things that matter, for people and purpose and principles that keep you whole, and happy in the face of constant change. Understand that no one really gives a shit about your job, maybe the big things, but never what your boss said in passing that still occupies your thoughts sometimes – forgive them, and talk to them about your ailing father. And your dogs that are getting older, the food you learnt how to cook last week – feed them. Feed yourself, feed your goals and fire till the shine can no longer be contained within you. Be the sun.
And when the clock strikes twelve, remember, I love you.
I love you, I love you.
Before midnight, and forever after.