It was only 9 p.m. on the West Coast, but the people in Times Square on television were celebrating the New Year already with the countdown, the ball dropping, and then a blizzard of confetti and cameras pivoting to catch the first kisses of New York’s New Year. “I want to be there, in Times Square, one day for New Year’s Eve,” I said. What a moment it must be, with the excitement of the crowd, all the lights and colors. I was reminded that it must be also quite expensive and quite crowded. Yes, but…
What is it that rises in me, wanting to join the celebration with a thousand strangers? Why do we treat the transition from this Monday (December 31) to this Tuesday (January 1) as special and different? January 1 began as most days of my life have so far: with me waking up.
All cultures have ways to mark the passing to time. We all mark significant life events (like birth, coming-of-age, marriage, death) and other rhythmic calendar events (Sabbath, Thanksgiving, New Year, Christmas, Ramadan…) with community ritual. Maybe we created the calendars that allow for order and organized communication in our communities, but we also celebrate our movement through these calendars. There’s something significant about celebrating and grieving and marking time together.
I remember a friend of mine sharing how challenging it has felt for her to attend and participate in the weddings of her friends as she continues as a single woman. The most difficult aspect she identified was that she wanted the community to gather around her in celebration as it had for so many of her friends, but there is no organized celebration to mark life events between college graduation and marriage — events such as big job transitions, decisions to pursue further education, cross-country moves, international travel or personal achievements like weight loss or starting a blog or overcoming fears to lead a small group or paying off debt. She and I talked about how we need to celebrate more often.
So here I am, breathing the air of a New Year, marking the transition from old to new beginning with a few million others around the world. I feel connected to all those strangers as we mark the changing of the year together.
May we grow deeper into our communities this year, soaking up shared nourishment as our roots extend into holy places of honesty and vulnerability and Truth. May our eyes be opened to notice the efforts, achievements, joys, and griefs of others and may we celebrate and mourn wildly and with absolute selflessness. May we be fearless in giving of our selves and our resources. May we be gentle with ourselves in our own journeys, engaging in the highest practice of acceptance with love. May we boldly walk through open doors and knock courageously on the closed ones.
It is just another Tuesday. And it’s also another year. May we live well in today.