The arrival of a new year marks a time for reflection, as to both the year that has passed and the year that lies ahead.
In the words of the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson:
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
But to put it another way, we might ask ourselves, “Where have we been — and where are we going?”
The latter question asks us to foresee the future, which by definition is an impossible task. Though we may make our best guess to predict what may lie ahead — and to plan accordingly — none of us has a crystal ball. The vicissitudes of life more often than not throw us curve balls that lay to waste even the best-laid of our plans for the year to come.
However, the former question is equally as tricky. Answering it requires both introspection and understanding, two qualities that are in short supply in our hurried world. We have barely enough time to do all the things we need to do every day, let alone try to figure out the, “Why?” of what we have done.
“Mindfulness” became the watchword of 2108. We are advised to step out of our busy lives for a few minutes each day to allow ourselves to practice “mindfulness” in the quest to bring ourselves inner peace and calm.
In a previous era, prayer served essentially the same purpose. Reciting the Rosary or a few Our Fathers, or going to a church to say a novena, was the preferred form of practicing mindfulness (though that was not the term for it in those days).
But with belief in god and attendance at church in steep decline in America in 2018, meditation and mindfulness have become the secular version of religious practice, a drug-free prescription to bring relief from the anxiety-inducing life we face every day we wake up.
However, one thing we can advise all of our readers is that celebrating the New Year — especially over what for many of us will be an extra-long weekend — requires all of us to make sure that we do so safely and that we are vigilant regarding the safety of others.
Although most of us these days take precautions to ensure that we do not operate a motor vehicle while under the influence on New Year’s night — whether by means of having a designated driver, or using Uber, or staying overnight in a hotel — there still are too many among us who will get behind the wheel of a car after having had too much to drink.
The most important thing we can do at an individual level is to prevent our friends and loved ones from becoming another tragic story by taking their keys or offering them a ride home if they appear incapable of driving soberly and safely.
We wish all of our readers a happy, healthy, safe — and mindful — New Year.