My wife commented to me a few days ago how she didn’t see what the big deal was about celebrating the new year, except an excuse to close businesses early on December 31, (“so everyone can go out and get drunk and party”), then everything being closed on New Year’s Day (“so everyone can sleep in and recover from their hangover”). Though I at one time partook of New Year’s festivities and all its merry-making while in college, I now see it as on the same level of importance in my life as Groundhog Day. Still, my wife’s vexation of not being able to shop at Sam’s Club on New Year’s Eve got me considering its importance.
It’s a time I’ve always stopped and considered the future, of what may come for the following year. As a young man in high school and college, a year was a lifetime. It was full of possibilities and anticipated summer adventures, a year to meet new people. I anxiously awaited those adolescent milestones into adulthood: 13, high school graduation, 18, 21, college graduation. It was also a time for me to reflect back on previous years, to look back and see how far I had come. It was a time to recount the good times and bad times I had experienced. When I was younger, though, there was less to reflect back on.
Now the years I have been on this earth stack behind me like second-hand books, one on top of the other, and the ones on the bottom of the stack get harder and harder to pull out and read. I can look at my life in decades, layers of strata in ancient rock, buried under the fresh thin layer of silt that is 2008 (those of you over 40 are probably laughing at me right about now). In 1998 I graduated from Appalachian State, enrolled back into ASU in the graduate program because I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, met my future wife, and worked as an editorial assistant for Jerry Williamson at the Appalachian Journal. In 1988 I was in eighth grade living in Hillsville, Virginia, wearing blue jean jackets with the patches, arm wrestling in math class, and wondering how I was going to get the courage to ask Rhonda on a date (or maybe it was Chandra – I had a thing for girls from Sylvatus). In 1978 I lived in Greensboro, North Carolina, my favorite television show was Sesame Street, I couldn’t tie my shoes, and I often loved to dance and make funny faces in front of my 1-year-old sister to get her to laugh. So much has happened in between that I couldn’t possibly begin to recount.
Now at 33, married with two children (and basically settled), an upcoming year is like chump change, not even enough to buy a can of soda at a convenience store. The only mileposts in my life now are looking forward to watching my children grow, that and my retirement in 23 years. I know it seems like I’m wishing my life away, but I assure you I am content with the predictable, methodic pace my life is taking because I share it with people I love, my wife and kids. Predictable is good, and there is always the possibility for the unexpected adventure. I just have to be more patient.