Ending and Starting Things

I thought it was a well-known aphorism that what you did on New Year’s Eve was what you would be doing the rest of the year. But when I relayed that piece of wisdom to someone else, out loud, in words, I realized it made no sense. What could that mean? Everyone will be getting drunk all year, every year?

People are obsessed with the ends and the beginnings of things, and with end and beginning-like things. It’s like the middle is second only to how the middle began and how it will end. We’re so in love with markers, dividing lines between then and now, that we forget about the now.

Ram Dass says to put up signs around your house: What time is it? Now. Where am I? Here. I like to think I don’t need to be here now, because I’m somewhere smarter, planning my future (in french: avenir, or literally, “to come”), or analyzing my past. Then I realize that of course that’s wrong. Of course this moment is all that counts. Of course New Year’s Eve is one night and not one whole year.


(from Ram Dass’s book Be Here Now,

image borrowed from iloveborntobewild.wordpress.com)

People wanted something to happen on December 21st so they would have a point in time to work away from. Before December 21st 2012. After December 21st 2012. As if the world has to end to have a new beginning. Because the world isn’t enough: we need the end of the world.

Then again, it’s true I keep rewriting the beginning chapter of my book. It’s true I reflect on last year’s new year’s resolutions and write new ones on December 31st. It’s true I think first dates and last kisses and closing pages of books are significant. It’s true that falling asleep and waking up are far more lived experiences than sleep.

But we can’t forsake our lives for the sake of starts and ends. A first chapter of a book would not be a book. Resolutions would do nothing if there wasn’t a year in which to not fulfill them. First dates and last kisses would be empty without the relationship, closing pages of books hasty and corny without the context. And then what about our dreams. I sleep for my dreams, and also to stay awake the next day. So I can be present in my life. So I can work at being present in my life and stop dividing my life into moments before I was present and moments in the future when certainly I will be present.


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