Happy New Year! Since no one can tell us for sure what is in store for the coming 12 months, we once again anticipate the possibilities that lie ahead. We are optimistic and hopeful that things will be wonderful. If we had a lousy 2017, we pray the coming year will be much better. If we had a pretty good 2017, we hope things will continue going in that direction. Hope for the future is everyone’s wish.
Many people make New Year’s resolutions. It’s like making a deal with the future. If I’m good, if I stop smoking, if I stop drinking, if I lose weight and exercise more, if I try harder to be kinder to others, If I spend more time with my family then maybe in the future I’ll be a better person and have less aggravations and stress and heartache.
Some people make big plans for the upcoming year. “This is the year that I start my own business,” or “This is the year I get a better job,” or “This is the year I get married,” or “This is the year I move out of my parents’ house and find a place of my own.” After all, anything is still possible on January 1st.
There are lots of, as the song goes, high hopes. Expectations for prosperity run strong. Confidence that things will be great in the year to come is shared by almost everyone. It seems that so many of us are running into the New Year with unbridled exuberance. Most are looking forward. I am too, but I’m remembering the past as well. Tomorrow is a question mark, an educated guess. Yesterday is what happened in real life.
The older I get the more I’m filled with a wistful melancholy at the end of the year. I assume it’s a pretty common occurrence when one passes middle age and the last roundup is just around the corner. When most of your life’s journey is behind you the thrill of looking ahead is replaced with memories of the past, and heavy sighing takes the place of gleeful squealing.
Please don’t think I’ve fallen into a suicidal depression here, not at all. Wistfulness is not about despondency it’s about longing and remembering. Remembering those days of youth, the times of looking forward to new horizons and exciting adventures yet to come. Remembering how it felt to be a kid, to have boundless energy and spirit, to feel safe and warm in a loving family, and to be completely optimistic about the future.
When you’re young everything is new. Every place you go is a discovery. Every day is different. When you’re young there is no such thing as an old joke, or an old story, or an old movie, or an old song. The world is fresh and clean. All things are possible and everyone you come in contact with is a potential friend. And nothing is as pure and as hopeful as young love.
And yes, my wistfulness also includes remembering the ones who have died. We never get over the longing for those who aren’t with us anymore. There’s no denying that with the passing away of our loved ones this world becomes a lonelier place. I miss my parents and my friends and so often I wish I could talk to them once more. Just one last time.
Thinking of the great days and events of years past. There were bad times too, but that isn’t where my thoughts are now, I’m concentrating on only the good stuff. Maybe our memories make the good stuff seem even better than they actually were and maybe we remember the bad things as not quite so bad. If that’s so, then that’s a good thing. That is what it should be.
If you expected this space to be silly or funny or clever this week, I’m truly sorry to disappoint you. But if there’s one thing you can always depend on me for, it’s being honest when sharing my feelings and that I have done. May your New Year be bright, healthy, prosperous, and full of all good things that will make great memories, memories that will live on for many, many years ahead.
Here’s to a terrific 2018 for us all!
Greg Crosby is a writer and cartoonist and former executive at the Walt Disney Company.