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Thursday, January 10, 2013

clean slate

So here we are.

Sometimes I wonder how I can continue to be such a sucker, new year after new year. It’s always that first week of January when the hard realization hits that that this bright shiny new year that I wished everyone in my holiday cards is neither particularly bright nor shiny. And it’s in the second week of January that I’m already tired of this new year. 

Every time that ball drops, with every champagne toast, and with every cheap noisemaker honk, there is this feeling -- no, more like desperate hope -- of a truly clean slate. A new beginning, a rebirth.

But this dark, dark time of year is not a time of rebirth. If you want a time of year that truly starts anew, it’s springtime, with its fresh life and flowering, that should be when the new year starts. December ends cold and gray, giving way to a January that is the same cold and gray, with things picking up exactly where we left off, only often with a hangover, heartburn, or lack of sleep. Yes, that clean slate we so desire is smudged from the very start with regret about our clichéd New Year’s Eve overindulgences. 

The store shelves still house a few Christmas remainders, cheap peppermint canes marked down cheaper, and rumpled sweaters at 75% off. 

The once-lush trees, wreaths, and garlands are now dead and dry on the sidewalk, bleeding needles everywhere.

The news is still the same, for better or for worse. So is your face... for better or for worse.

Even that glossy magazine that screams New Year: New You! was put together in November and went on the shelves last month and recycles the same old stories from years past, only with updated words like apps and Pinterest. There’s nothing new about any of it.

There’s no such thing as a New Year’s Day clean slate, because we still live on the same Earth, with the same broken people. All our lives are too intertwined to ensure that much newness. It’s like going back to school in the fall after losing 20 pounds and getting a different haircut. You’re not fooling anyone into thinking you’re a brand new person in September, because those people are the same ridiculous yahoos they were in June.

To be fair, there are some clean slates to be had, but they usually involve health insurance deductibles and taxable income. Ring it in, indeed.

So if you’ve already broken your resolutions, fret not. This new year was already old to begin with... so start the damn diet in March if you want. It doesn’t matter a bit. (By the same token, don’t wait until next January 1st to finally stop smoking, either.) 

Isn’t it comforting and freeing to know that the calendar doesn’t control your destiny? (I’m looking at you, Mayans...)

Yes indeed. Welcome to me.

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