December 31, 2007. 11:41 pm. 19 minutes till January 2008. A new year, a new lifetime. It is usually on the last day of the year (or on the first of the new year) that we pause to reflect on the past year, on all the moments of joy, of sadness, of could-be’s, of have-beens, of what-ifs. We use this time to plan out better tomorrows, of more hopeful times, of happy futures. But another year also means more heartache, more sorrows, more deaths. There are some who will lose loved ones, there are some who will fall out of love, some who will have their hearts broken. It is normal to feel melancholy on this day, but it is undoubtedly much wiser to be hopeful and positive… After all, unless we look to the future with hope and a positive attitude, we would all be sitting at home near midnight, crying ourselves to sleep…
Each day we live is a new lifetime. There are people around the world being born, turning 12 years old, turning 50 years old, turning 70 years old, dying. Each day is filled with the flurry of what ‘life’ consists of- turning points, births, deaths. 365 lifetimes in a year. If we lived each day with that in mind- that it is a lifetime we are spending, how would we do things differently? Would we say different things? Could we love like it truly didn’t matter? Could we let go of all prejudices and anger and make the most of the day?... Probably not. We would probably continue to bicker over petty things, argue about our beliefs, create pandemonium for the sake of our own ideals. We would probably continue to create wars, brandishing our swords of religion, of race, of wealth, of so-called justice and freedom. We would probably find a minute to fit in love and peace, but it would be a fleeting moment, and we would immediately be consumed again by the insistence of ‘need’- the need for things, the need for possessions, the need for wars. It has become human nature to guard our material and non-material properties and our beliefs – there is an almost selfish brutishness in how it happens. We will probably continue to live each day submerged in ourselves, with the blinders on our eyes strapped on tightly.
What we ought to do is look around us… Notice the pure delight in the face of a little girl as she chases pigeons around the courtyard. Watch the spreading of simple and unadulterated joy in the face of two friends as they share a bar of chocolate. We should see the bit of irresistible hope swinging in the corner of a woman’s eyes as she sits in the coffee shop, waiting to meet the man she’s fallen in love with. We should watch the grandparents swell with pride as their grandchildren show them school certificates and medals. We should listen for the notes in-between song lyrics that make our hearts surge with something like love, like happiness. What we should remember is the way a person’s eyes look when they are in love; the smiles that light them up. What we should look for is the hope that dangles on a thread in a war-torn country, where the shambles of buildings and dried bloodstains cannot dim a child’s need to play football. What we should look for is the love that passes from body to body as a tight hug is given between two people. What we should remember is the gurgling laughter of toddlers that come without reason, without hatred, without preconceived notions, without prejudices or beliefs… Those are what lifetimes are made of.
…If New Year’s Day was worth your lifetime, what would you do differently today?