Monday,17 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1326, (5-11 January 2017)
Monday,17 June, 2019
Issue 1326, (5-11 January 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Cheers for the New Year

Once more a fair new page/ The New Year brings us all.
Once more a fair new page/ The New Year brings us all.

A new year begins for all mankind. New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.  “No one ever regarded the first of January with indifference. It is the nativity of our common Adam”, wrote Charles Lamb.

For each one of us it is a new adventure into the unknown.  

Like voyagers in time, we dock for now at the year 2017.  It looks hopeful and inviting. We wander on its shores to explore its many offering of joys — and of sorrows. Much awaits us on our new journey’s quest — a myriad pleasures and treasures and we resolve again, year after year, journey after journey to embrace it with optimism and positivity.

But while the soul is willing, the flesh is weak. Our firm resolutions are soon abandoned within a week and we are back staring at a glass half empty.

Not this year. That joyful sense of rebirth, that undying hope, the unfulfilled dreams urge us to believe that we shall make it all happen this year. If only we are not discouraged by one misstep, if only we can get up and try again, if only we can never stop trying, we know success awaits us at the end of the long road.

Was it not only on the eve of the New Year that we sang and danced and hugged and kissed and wished everyone in sight ‘a Happy New Year’. It is therefore up to us to make it so.

New Year’s Eve is the oldest of man’s holidays and the noisiest. It has been so since man began to count the seasons. Early Babylonians’ New Year was early in spring, as were all the ancient new fear festivities. The tampering with calendars did not matter much for the need to feast and enjoy the comfort of good friends and good food was essential whether in spring or winter.

It must be an inherent need to unload accumulated events of the past that burden us; to drive away the demons within and the evil spirits that constantly harass us. At the stroke of midnight out they come to steal our possessions and our souls. Originally, the noise making was supposed to scare them and drive them away. We still adhere to those customs while ignorant of their origins…We blow those horns and wear those hats to hide our identity so the evil ones do not recognise us.  We deal with: “The slings and arrows” of the past year by being noisy, boisterous, tumultuous in an ongoing revelry with hoots and horns, popping balloons and loud music to help us: “Ring out the old, ring in the new.” 

When the noise subsides, we face the New Year. Now is the time to get on with our forward march. It is best to do it with a smile and a cheer. Smiles take off years off your age and weight off your burden and it is easy, cheap and effortless.

How do we guard against unforeseen disasters? By now, we know that life is not easy, triumph is not guaranteed. What is within our reach is self confidence. The belief in our self, adopting a positive attitude and looking on the bright side, is all that we possess to shield us against the perils of our new adventure. That too may not be easy, but it is doable. It is up to us. 

Resolutions every New Year are also inherited from our forefathers. They would resolve to pay up debts or return borrowed tools as they did in Babylon 4000 years ago.

We still make resolutions knowing full well they will not be kept. It is far more fruitful to attain our goals by ringing out pessimism with the old year and ringing in optimism with the new.

Studies show that a negative frame of mind offers fewer or negative solutions. Humour and a high self-esteem can break the barrier of pessimism and save years of your life. It is well documented that even among children the optimist makes better grades than the pessimist. Furthermore optimists are more resistant to infectious illnesses and “are better at fending off chronic disease”.

Greater minds have a hopeful view of life. Your New Year adventure will be what you make it, depending on your attitude. Believe that good things will come and will last. Do not close the vistas of hope. Try to be like Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, Leibniz, the Scholastics, Kant, Hegel, Fichte, Lotze, Wundt who were all renowned for their greatness, which may have been a source of their optimism.

How about that Stephen Halking… is he worth looking up to, learning from, admiring?

Even the Old Testament has a similar message: “And God saw all things that he made and they were very good.” (Genesis 31).

If you cherish life, and we all do, do not squander time, “for time once lost is never again found”.

A New Year is a blessing, giving us one more chance to ‘look for the doughnut, not the hole.’

This is the year for laughter, it is the best medicine.  

On your new adventure of 2017, forget the small resolutions. Seek the big picture. Watch how the children laugh — be a child again and by 2018 you will sure to be a happy adult.

Once more a fair new page/ The New Year brings us all.


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