New Year’s Peeve: the folly of the fresh start

I have friends who opt out of Christmas, so commercial/depressing/faux-festive do they find it that they dodge the tinsel completely; think fingers-in-the-ears and a whole lot of maniacal humming.

My own branch of crazy allows me to slide through Christmas quite unscathed, in fact. I’m a vegetarian with a penchant for basting the odd bird and baking things that smell like cinnamon and Santa.

New year celebrations, however, are a whole other story.

My vigorous loathing of fireworks aside (seriously, could we not just fill up a couple of rubbish bins with cash and set them ablaze for similar effect?), it’s the two-pronged catastrophe of time-passing and false hope. There are two concepts I spend the other 364 days dwelling on, so I can’t fathom why we’d devote a whole night to their commemoration.

Years ago I had a boyfriend who, after my palm gently grazed one of his nipples, screeched, in pain, “My Achilles’ Heel, Lauren, it’s my Achilles’ Heel!” He was serious too, which made it all the more hilarious.

Time-lapse photography. Pet food ads showing Labradors ageing into new kibble ranges. The Five For Fighting song backgrounding that American bank ad. This is my Achilles’ Heel, folks, my Achilles’ Heel.

My 2013 was okay enough. But even if it was a bloody unmitigated disaster, there’d be no thrill in bidding it farewell. Hell, aside from the Kennett and Howard governments and the odd bout of gastro, I’ve never endured the end of anything that didn’t sting mercilessly. I watched Six Feet Under, I appreciate that everything ends. But going so far as celebrating it? With banging noises and skyrockets? Am I the only one who finds this all mildly mad?

Worse than the preposterous idea of celebrating the passing of time, however, is the thorough folly of fresh starts. And as reliable as hot cross buns in supermarkets by Boxing Day, the articles on New Year diet regimes, New Year financial plans, and New Year wardrobe makeovers are mere by-lines away; just to ensure that the tyranny of overhaul is inescapable.

Because what, a brand-spanking new diary and getting to write a new date on paperwork suddenly changes our behaviour, ours mood, our destiny? Because, what, somewhere around the 11.59pm mark – while singing some depressing ditty while half-inebriated – our slovenly, self-pitying, toxic-pattern-repeating cells got replaced with hung-ho, peppy, lust-for-life ones?

To say I’m unconvinced is putting it mildly.

It’s not that I don’t play mind games with myself, of course. I hide frozen broccoli in my own smoothies to trick myself into eating more greens. I type this very article 8,000 kilometres from home because when unpleasantness is spent in a different time zone, surely it hurts less.

I understand delusion. But believing that our lives of gluttony and inactivity, our addiction to lecherous men and our penchant for smokin’, drinkin’ and cussin’ will abruptly halt because the countdown is over is one bridge of crazy too far.

So, we didn’t want it badly enough throughout September or October, but come January 1 and it’ll all be different? Motivation and will-power and unflappable determination kicks in all because it’s the New Year? In one breath we can render an entire year a write-off and in the next believe that we can return our lives to factory settings? Get an Eternal Sunshine-style “spotless mind”? Stand in some symbolic vat of Dettol?

David Byrne knows what he’s talking about: the New Year truth is more same as it ever was, same as it ever was.

For the record, there’s quite obviously a reason why I’m an academic and not a motivational speaker. One is being really unskilled at suspending disbelief. The other involves finding the stringy ejaculation of party poppers quite the serious abomination.

I have friends who opt out of Christmas, so commercial/depressing/faux-festive do they find it that they dodge the tinsel completely; think fingers-in-the-ears and a whole lot of maniacal humming.

My own branch of crazy allows me to slide through Christmas quite unscathed, in fact. I’m a vegetarian with a penchant for basting the odd bird and baking things that smell like cinnamon and Santa.

New year celebrations, however, are a whole other story.

My vigorous loathing of fireworks aside (seriously, could we not just fill up a couple of rubbish bins with cash and set them ablaze for similar effect?), it’s the two-pronged catastrophe of time-passing and false hope. There are two concepts I spend the other 364 days dwelling on, so I can’t fathom why we’d devote a whole night to their commemoration.

Years ago I had a boyfriend who, after my palm gently grazed one of his nipples, screeched, in pain, “My Achilles’ Heel, Lauren, it’s my Achilles’ Heel!” He was serious too, which made it all the more hilarious.

Time-lapse photography. Pet food ads showing Labradors ageing into new kibble ranges. The Five For Fighting song backgrounding that American bank ad. This is my Achilles’ Heel, folks, my Achilles’ Heel.

My 2013 was okay enough. But even if it was a bloody unmitigated disaster, there’d be no thrill in bidding it farewell. Hell, aside from the Kennett and Howard governments and the odd bout of gastro, I’ve never endured the end of anything that didn’t sting mercilessly. I watched Six Feet Under, I appreciate that everything ends. But going so far as celebrating it? With banging noises and skyrockets? Am I the only one who finds this all mildly mad?

Worse than the preposterous idea of celebrating the passing of time, however, is the thorough folly of fresh starts. And as reliable as hot cross buns in supermarkets by Boxing Day, the articles on New Year diet regimes, New Year financial plans, and New Year wardrobe makeovers are mere by-lines away; just to ensure that the tyranny of overhaul is inescapable.

Because what, a brand-spanking new diary and getting to write a new date on paperwork suddenly changes our behaviour, ours mood, our destiny? Because, what, somewhere around the 11.59pm mark – while singing some depressing ditty while half-inebriated – our slovenly, self-pitying, toxic-pattern-repeating cells got replaced with hung-ho, peppy, lust-for-life ones?

To say I’m unconvinced is putting it mildly.

It’s not that I don’t play mind games with myself, of course. I hide frozen broccoli in my own smoothies to trick myself into eating more greens. I type this very article 8,000 kilometres from home because when unpleasantness is spent in a different time zone, surely it hurts less.

I understand delusion. But believing that our lives of gluttony and inactivity, our addiction to lecherous men and our penchant for smokin’, drinkin’ and cussin’ will abruptly halt because the countdown is over is one bridge of crazy too far.

So, we didn’t want it badly enough throughout September or October, but come January 1 and it’ll all be different? Motivation and will-power and unflappable determination kicks in all because it’s the New Year? In one breath we can render an entire year a write-off and in the next believe that we can return our lives to factory settings? Get an Eternal Sunshine-style “spotless mind”? Stand in some symbolic vat of Dettol?

David Byrne knows what he’s talking about: the New Year truth is more same as it ever was, same as it ever was.

For the record, there’s quite obviously a reason why I’m an academic and not a motivational speaker. One is being really unskilled at suspending disbelief. The other involves finding the stringy ejaculation of party poppers quite the serious abomination.

January 01, 2014

© Lauren Rosewarne

Original Source: ABC The Drum