I fell out of the habit of celebrating New Year’s Eve some time ago. I did the party and drinking thing when I was young (too young in fact), then did Boston’s First Night for a number of years, right up through when the boys were young. Then we stopped going out. A few years ago, I stopped even staying up until midnight.
For me it’s not the exact moment when the year changes, it’s just the mere fact of the changing of the year. Or maybe the changing of the year and still being around to see it. 2000 was amazing to me. I remember growing up and thinking of being 40 when the year 2000 came around, turning 41 later that same year. It seemed like science fiction, especially snuggled up against 2001, simply for the Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick connection.
In reality, the 2000s have been momentous, in bad and good ways. We all know about the world stage—9/11 and and the horrors of war and illness and terrorism on the one hand, giant leaps in medicine and science on the other.. On my small stage it has meant all the trials and rewards of marriage and of raising two boys through adolescence and into young adulthood. It has meant saying goodbye to my mother, my sister, and my mother-in-law. It has meant a rewarding stretch of work—co-authoring two books, writing a great deal for publication, working with great clients, and now working for the MIT Press—after being a fan boy of the Press for decades.
2016 seems like an awfully big number to me. We are well into the new century, even if we are only scratching the surface of the new millennium. It’s a leap year, and in my own little world of numbers, 16 was always the first interesting number. It’s the first number that you calculate to the fourth power in school. I loved that, for some reason, and remember going from 16 to 32 to 64 to the highest number I could do in my head, which I still remember to be 32,768. On its own, 2016 is divisible by two and three and seven and nine. I undoubtedly knew this as a kid. I would turn these things round in my head endlessly in third and fourth and fifth grade.
2016 has some big anniversaries for me. It’s 50 years since I started first grade, 35 years since I graduated college, 30 years since my master’s degree, 30 years since I started my adjunct teaching, 25 years since my oldest son was born.
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, probably because I view New Year’s as a time for reflection and not for planning. Or maybe it’s just another example of my aversion to deadlines. Over this past year I vowed to start a daily practice of writing, and I have, and I vowed to start learning guitar, and I have. But don’t be too impressed—I’ve been vowing to do both of those for decades. I also vowed to start exercising again, and I haven’t. I am eating better, but that’s been because of circumstances and not out of will power or anything honorable like that.
What will 2016 bring? Of course we don’t know. Now that I’ve started writing more and started the guitar, I guess I will have to go back into my bucket list, but I don’t keep one of those either. I would start one, but if I did that today, that might be like a resolution, or set of them, and I don’t do those.
Until then, I hope you all have good luck and good health in the new year. We all deserve nothing less.