New Year’s Eve and the Meaning of Things

Last year, I waited until the last minute to decide what to do for New Year’s Eve. At about 10 PM on December 31st, my best friend and I went to a city nearby expecting to find its square full of people celebrating. When we arrived there, we found out that everything was closed and that people were leaving. So we drove back home. At about midnight, as we passed through a very small town on the way home, we saw some fireworks. I stopped the car to see them, but there were very few and lasted only a few minutes.

Some heavy partying NOT going on.

Some heavy partying NOT going on.

That’s how I started 2014. I felt very disappointed. I thought the occasion was special and that I had somehow missed it. Worse, I felt I had screwed it up. Yet, the next day, everything was normal. People opened their businesses, went to work, cooked food, took taxis, etc. When night came, people stopped working, went home, had dinner, watched TV and then went to bed because they new that the day after they needed to wake up early to do it all over again.

It was surprising to me that one day would carry so much meaning, while the next one was absolutely normal. I also realized later through conversations with different people that some people have to work on the night of December 31st just like any other day. For many people, including police officers, security guards, taxi drivers, doctors, nurses, insurance agents and others, New Year’s Eve is a day like any other. Most of them don’t feel bad or disappointed because they can’t be celebrating.

Why? Because they don’t give the day the same meaning as I did.

It’s not that they don’t give meanings to days or occasions, it’s just that they don’t give it meaning to this specific one. But I did, because I believed that New Year’s Eve is special. But the reality is that it isn’t. It’s just a date that we arbitrarily assigned to start counting years. In fact, it’s not even an exact count.

Is it bad to give meaning to dates? No, it isn’t. But we do have to remind ourselves that it’s we who created the meaning, not the dates, situations or objects we give the meaning to. And if we can choose those meanings, let’s make them positive ones.

Also, we can give meaning to anything we want. You can choose to wake up upset because you have to go to work, or you can choose to be grateful because you are alive one more day. You can choose to hate your job and your boss, or you can choose to see them as the source of the food on your table and the roof over your head. That doesn’t mean that you should be a conformist or tolerate abuse, just that you can make anything at least a bit more enjoyable if you choose to.

This year, I’m probably going to spend it relaxing at home, enjoying a movie or playing a game. And I’m going to be grateful for it.

I've matured so much.

I’ve matured so much.


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