New Year’s Eve scares a lot of people because it has the effect of forcing people to reflect on their year. This process can be likened to a person looking into a clear pool. That pool has many depths and can distort what you see. Many, like Ben Pobjie, loathe what they see in that pond and want to apologise for it. That is a tempting position to take for most of us -many would have regrets and can see where we have contributed more weeds to the pond than were in there at the start of the year.
It is also a time when people take stock of “The Year” as an amorphous mass – hence we have endless lists of what is deemed important. Top 10 News Stories, Top 10 Tweets, Top 10 Blogs, etc, etc. They hold interest for about 2 minutes and are then followed by either a “oh, yeah” or a “no way”. I’m sure the political year in Australia will get a good wringing out by the people whose job it is to glean some kind of depth from that shallow cess pool. Besides the parliamentary ALP failing to understand much about its own principles and Tony Abbott saying “no”, there isn’t much to see. I am glad I am not a journalist at those points, because their hard work being put into analysing the year just dissipates like mist.
I am much more interested in the reflections of people than I am in these lists that are churned out. Politics and “big events” in truth, have little impact on people’s everyday lives, especially in a relatively comfortably settled country like Australia. Where politics matters is where it can help people. I am not speaking here about improvements in terms of the economic imperative that rules the way politics is reported – everything reduced to the idea of “cost of living” – I am speaking about “quality of living”. People across Australia will have spent large amounts of money on party tickets, alcohol, the airconditioning in their house and so on. The question they might well avoid is “I have all these things, but am I any happier than I was without it?” If the answer is yes, then that is great – possessing what you want has had a positive effect. I hope that is the answer. I suspect, however, the answer may well be no for many. This is where NYE can act as a way of helping those who are unhappy to look at positives in their lives outside economic definitions.
While it is tempting to switch off the TV at 11pm, or drink a lot in a park with a group of strangers and avoid the reflection, the NYE pond is a necessary rite of renewal for all of us. It does give us a chance to see where we have stumbled as well as the good things we have achieved as people. This is why I am hoping that #nyeathome will be a success. Not in terms of trending numbers, more that it will give people a chance to meaningfully reflect on their year and give people a chance to engage with others about what is important to them. It will also give people a chance to discuss resolutions to change – if necessary - and how best they can actually achieve those changes. Chances are there are others out there who have tried and failed, or tried and succeeded with the same goals.
When it comes time for tomorrow night, have a look at the pond. Reflect. Then celebrate the end of one year and then whatever 2012 will bring.