… Sounds like death row, but no, in fact it is the day before the last day of 2011. This is the time of year where some people feverishly organise nights out, parties, get togethers, perhaps even fireworks. They haul in lots of alcohol and stash away food platters for the all-night celebrations to say good-bye to 2011 and welcome in 2012. Of course at midnight in their drunken hazes they hug and kiss their friends, spend hours whatsapping, BBM’ing, SMS’ing and MMS’ing friends and relatives, across the globe messages, of good cheer, encouragement, silliness or wisdom. They make silent promises to themselves that 2012 will be different. That they will stick to that healthier lifestyle diet that they have been trying to do for years, or work harder to get that promotion, drink less alcohol and more water, exercise more, spend less on things they don’t need, or make more effort to spend time with relations over 70.
Some people prefer to stay home on New Years Eve. Quietly avoiding the possibility of drunken drivers or bar fights. There is always the exciting coverage of New Years Eve celebrations in Time Square, New York, to gawk at on television or a sweeping look at various different ways of celebrating on every continent in different time zones. Some like to make sure that their animals are calm and safe in the wake of all the chaos on the streets, sacrificing their own celebrations in favour of making sure their pets are not alone. I knew somebody at university who would consciously and purposefully spend New Years Eve alone every year. He happened to be fortunate enough to come from a family who owned a huge house with a wood and I am not joking when I tell you he would spent midnight on the 31st of December each year amongst the trees, which legend has it, he would talk to. He may well still practice this each year.
Then of course there are those noble folk who work whilst everyone else is playing. Firemen, nurses, doctors, policemen and women, people who work at animal shelters, taxi drivers, fast food servers even, who give up time with their loved ones essentially to serve others. These are the members of society who go unnoticed by the rest of us until we need their help. And of course, spare a thought for all the people who are alone tomorrow night, for whatever reason. People for whom this entire celebratory end of year season is so hard.
The most beautiful New Years Eve I have had to date was in Rio on the famous Copacabana Beach, where (it seemed) millions of people gathered to sip beverages, enjoy picnics and watch magnificent fireworks against the night sky. I was expecting a night of frenzied partying, misbehavior and possibly even a little danger (this was Rio after all). But instead, it was a night of beautiful ritual. Everybody there was dressed in white. Can you imagine how amazing that looked? Many local people dig holes in the sand and inside place candles, flowers and photographs of their deceased loved ones. I did not feel intimidated by crime for one moment that night, but rather relished in the simplicity of this magical ritual, which left such a powerful impression on me. That night struck such a wonderful balance of celebration and reflection, which ever since is what I believe New Years Eve should be all about.
Whatever you choose to do with the 31st December 2011 and the 1st January 2012, I hope that you are able to say good bye with a measure of reflection and learning, in gratitude, for whatever kind of year you have had, because regardless, it has shaped who you are today. I hope also that you are able to celebrate what will be in 2012; and it is my wish for you that you go in to this next year with positivity around whatever change may come.