Jen here, as always – bringing you my most erratic thoughts, which you never asked for.
Time to dive right in:
Several events sparked my thoughts for this blog post, which may seem rather disjointed when written down. The picture I see in my head when my words are sewn together is never quite as succinct as that which is finally published. As always, I will try my best.
As we saw a little over a week ago from our overwhelming access to social media, so many of us spent another New Year’s Eve dressed in sparkles and waiting for the count down. In recent years, I can describe those minutes before a new year begins as euphoric, tiring, vapid and empowering – sometimes all at once. Yet what each of these rather distinct experiences share is the well-wishing tidal wave from those in our personal and online communities, wishing us a prosperous and healthy new year.
This new years, I sat in a bar with sister and cousins staring into at the brimming top of a tequila shot as I was passed salt to tip onto my hand at a minute to midnight. I didn’t hesitate. I’m not new to tequila, as my gag reflex will attest to. It was in that moment when the year on my phone’s lock screen changed that I recognised that so much had subtly changed about me and my behaviours over the past year. That realization was almost obliterated by the burn of tequila on my throat. But not entirely.
This post in itself is not a memorial to the wisdoms 2016 has taught me, of which there are many. There is no great shortage of those posts on the internet at the moment, and I am sure that others would summarise their year better than I could.
Instead, I cannot remove from my thoughts the idea of what truly defines a year to us as humankind. This is the type of moment when any one of my sarcastic family members would tell me that 365 days defines a year, and 366 every four years. But truly, the idea of a year carries as much weight as concept of a cloud. Both would be without its name, definition and worth should humans not have deigned to give it one.
I read recently that if no one is there to see a rainbow in the sky, it does not exist. I immediately rejected this thought until I grew to understand that without our presence, our experience of fractured light through our eyes, the rain and sunlight would be entirely null and void and may as well not exist. Thus, by this understanding, the beauty of the world is entirely dependent upon those who experience it. This gives us humans an equal exceptional status to the universe as all matter in the galaxy.
Without our human experience of a year, the power of change that a new year holds would be lost entirely. Perhaps you will disagree with me, or may not understand me, for which I would not blame you. But in summary, all this means is that if we were to award ourselves such importance as we give a rainbow, the sound of the wind, or even a new year, the change we could enact would be insurmountable.
If you had told me several years ago when my mind was at its weakest, that my mental illnesses, my obsessions, my passions and my oddities held the same worth as a very moon to the experience of the earth, I would have dithered between laughter and discomfort. I would have laughed because of how ludicrous the idea sounds, but I would have been uncomfortable perhaps because this understanding of each of our earthly experiences as vital, would have removed the antiquated teaching that I was merely a small drop in a large ocean. Life would have been more terrifying should I have recognised my worth as equating to the whole ocean.
Each of us at varying points in our lives has experienced the terror of our own smallness in a universe who’s vastness cannot be truly grasped. It is from this horror that our self perception of an all-knowing universe and a little-old-me is born.
Yet, without you the birds would cease to sound as it is your eardrums that make such noise possible. Without you, the smell of freshly cut grass would cease to hold value. Without you, the twinkling of the stars would remain unknown altogether.
Without you, a new year’s eve kiss would lose its importance. Your participation in life is what makes it worth participating in.
I don’t write this in the hopes of bringing our new year’s hopes into sharper reality which will suddenly make our resolutions seem silly or meaningless. Instead, I write this as much for you as I do myself – to remember that our dreams carry equal weight and importance of the sunrise. Without us, neither would exist. Our beauty, our strife, our anger and our complexity is the glue which tenuously holds the universe together. Our existence hinges the experience of all non-living phenomenon and by that knowledge, we are truly exceptional and so are our dreams. Unstoppably and unchangeably so.
Throughout my life, no matter how long or short that may be, I will no longer view my dreams as arbitrary or my opinions as being ‘out there’, as I create the very definition of ‘out there’ by my experience of it. The same goes for you – your experience, your universe and your life, unchangeably so.
Now you only have to decide how you use it.