It’s finally over! 2016 is out for good, never to return!
Sure, the turning of the new year means that the past 365-day period of political strife, cultural-icon deaths, and the election of Donald “I can’t contain my childish impulses and will therefore inevitably wage a nuclear war” Trump has come to completion, but I actually want to talk about the celebration of New Year’s Day itself. Honestly, I’m somewhat conflicted about my celebration of the New Year, because it’s entirely arbitrary. January 1, with the exception of being the first day of the Gregorian calendar, holds no special significance. A day about a week and a half earlier though, which is known as the Winter Solstice, is fantastically more significant from a cosmological standpoint. It’s the actual day when sunlight on our half of the world begins to extend has opposed to retract.
But I still tend to celebrate on the evening of December 31 more than any other night.
It may not have any natural significance, but it sure as hell is a big cultural event. It’s the evening that throngs of people gather in New York City’s Times Square to watch the ball drop, and who crowd onto dance floors at neighborhood bars, with cheap plastic stemware of dollar store champagne in hand, to toast a singular moment as a turning point in their lives… if only for one year. It’s when we look back at the happenings of the past 12 months, all the heartbreak, all the breakthroughs, the success and magic, the perverse questions of existence, and then collectively say that that belongs to the last chapter of our lives; what are we going to do about it? It’s the permission we give ourselves to start over if things aren’t going well, and to shelve for posterity when they have.
So when thinking about this occasion, I decided to write a hip-hop sonnet. And as I reread the poem, it’s interesting how these 14-lines say so much better what I think of the holiday than the previous few paragraphs. So enjoy:
In time and space we find our place
struggling against the cultural race
where love and money and identity
make us scream into the void for a referee.
But at a turning point, a date,
surrounded by friends who mold our fate,
we stop and wait, reevaluate the year
like the last chapter of a book we fear.
And it’s not so scary what we see
because the present is a present to be.
The good and the bad only develops
a character of one that entirely envelopes
a person, one with friends who share love
together on New Year’s day; it’s enough.