The question of the year
WHAT IF EVERY EVE
WAS NEW YEAR’S EVE?
And so, very soon now, we begin another year. Another cycle in the continuous circling of the Earth around the Sun. Another passage of the Body, Mind, and Soul through the Labyrinth of Life.
And as we end the latest of these rotations and begin again yet another, every thinking surely person must ask, “What is the point of this? Are we truly ‘just going round in circles,’ pretending that our elliptical course is a straight line actually getting us somewhere?”
I wrote the commentary below a few years ago, and I was re-reading it today as we celebrate in my house the passage and the experience of a wonderful Christmas, and as we await the New Year. In that previous commentary I asked:
Is there any kind of purpose or destination to this cycle that we call our life? Or are we lined up at the starting gate like horses at Churchill Downs, itching to race like mad to get to where we began—this time strangely and ironically calling that place the Finish Line?
Can I be the only one who will entertain such thoughts a few hours from now as I and a group of my friend and relatives stand holding our glasses, gaily—and with not a little bit of melancholy—counting down: “five…..four…..three…..two…..ONE!”, and then shouting “Happy New Year” as if seeking to convince each other that the endless passage of time is actually something to celebrate?
What will we be celebrating?, I’m asking myself today. Where are we going actually?, I wonder.
And then we will sing…
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and days of old lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
The sadness, the poignancy, of the song never fails to bring tears to my eyes—more so, I notice, with each passing year. I wondered this morning about the origin of this traditional New Year’s Eve song, and so I opened Wikipedia to find (and I knew this before, but had simply forgotten) that it is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns long ago (in 1788, to be specific) and set to the tune of a traditional folk song.
It’s well known in many countries, especially (but far from exclusively) in the English-speaking world; its traditional use being to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations and as a farewell or ending to other occasions.
The song’s Scots title may be translated into English literally as “old long since,” or more idiomatically, “long, long ago,””days gone by” or “old times.” Consequently “For auld lang syne,” as it appears in the first line of the chorus, is loosely translated as “for (the sake of) old times.”
For my own part, I’ve sung the song too many times, in the presence of too many dear, dear people, to be able to not cry…because too many of these dear, dear people have been forgot, in the sense that they are no longer a part of my present-moment life. And I wonder (my mind does these things to me), as I look into the faces of those who are here now, how long they will be part of my life, or if, on some future New Year’s Eve, I’ll be singing (and gently weeping) about them…
I don’t like it that so many present and pleasant experiences so fast turn into bitter-sweet memories…sweet because of their content, bitter because they are never to be visited again. I want no endings in this life! Really. Really. I want no endings. I’m tired of endings. Especially where people are concerned. I want people who have meant something to me to mean something to me always, and I want to be able to experience that meaning always—not as a memory, but as a here-and-now occurrence.
Perhaps that is the meaning of it all. Perhaps that is the purpose of this circular journey we are on. Perhaps it is all a journey to where we have already been, so that we may have, again and again and again, the experience that we are overjoyed to have: the experience of Who We Really Are—which is Love. Love Announced, Love Expressed, Love Sent and Received.
This thought fills me with a determination to make every moment that I now have with my Beloveds count.
I’ve made that resolution before, of course. And then I get right back into my Everyday, and somehow, someplace, somewhere, I lose touch with my determination to live life in such a way that Every. Single. Solitary. Moment. is filled with Love Announced, Love Expressed, Love Sent and Received.
But this morning (I wrote this part on a past New Year’s morning) I awoke with a startling idea. What if I sang Auld Lang Syne in my head every time I saw a person who is Now In My Life who is special to me? What if I started singing it quietly inside of myself every time I see them, every time I speak with them, every time I hug them or share space with them in any way?
What a marvelous idea!, I told myself. Yes, I will sing that song in my head, and pretend that it is some future New Year’s Eve and that the person in front of me is, for some reason, no longer there. Then I will blink back the soft and hopefully hidden misty eyes of my present moment melancholy and speak words to her, and use tones of voice with him, and share emotions with them that truly present, in the present, the fullness of my feelings for them.
And then I will smile and hold with deep inner joy and undisguised outward celebration the fact that this is not some sad future New Year’s Everything when they are gone, but that we are Right Here, Right Now.
And then I will smile a deeper smile, knowing that all those who have been in my Now Moment before will return to my present awareness and my present experience when I, myself, travel to The Other Side, celebrating my own Continuation Day, leaving my body and going Home.
There they will all be, waiting. There we will all hug and squeeze and touch and hold and smile and talk and dance with excitement and joy as we embrace, once again, the presence of each other (and the gift of each other, the presents of all those with whom we have intertwined our lives in Soul Love).
And to those with whom we have made mistakes, we will say, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” as those who have made mistakes with us will say the same. And we won’t even feel a need to forgive them, nor will they feel a need to forgive us, for it will not matter to either of us what has been done, as we will deeply understand what wounds in ourselves and the other could cause such experiences—and, filled with compassion, once again we will deeply love.
And to those with whom our only sadness has been their departure from our lives, we will say, “My God, how good…how very, very, very good…to see you again.”
And we will have spoken rightly. For it will be “God” that we are seeing again. The Divinity in everyone—including ourselves—will be apparent to us then as the miracle and the mystery of Life reveals itself to us once we are free of our limited human perspective.
And so today, knowing this, I actively and joyously choose to see God in everyone right now. Not just in some Future Now, but in this Now. And I’ll sing Auld Lang Syne not just this coming New Year’s Eve, but every New Eve and every New Morn that my present life on Earth still brings me. I will make this very minute New Year’s Eve all year long, in my heart and in my mind.
And I’ll drink from—and share—a cup of kindness now, knowing that these are the days of Auld Lang Syne.
Happy New Year everyone. Happy, happy life.