This week seems to be a time out of time, when people are concentrating on the year to come, planning New Year’s Eve events, making resolutions (or at least thinking of making them), and even shopping at year-end sales in preparation for next year’s needs. Like everyone else, that’s generally how I’ve thought of this time — as a few extra days tacked on to the end of the real year in preparation for the next real year.
Despite all that focus on the future, there are a few days left of this year, time enough to hurry up and finally do some of the things you resolved to do when this year was new, and time enough to celebrate the remaining days because every day should be a day to celebrate, if only that we are still alive.
Oddly, for the first time in my life, I am very aware of this year coming to an end. I can actually feel a sense of finality, though I’m not sure whether it’s for the year itself or for some as yet unknown experience. I don’t in any way think that I am prescient; this feeling of an end could be what I originally intimated — that the year (and only the year) is coming to an end. The feeling could also be due to my spending so much time alone and hence able to feel some sort of change in the atmosphere. (A change in weather is coming, that’s for sure — there won’t be any of these balmy winter days for a while.)
But what do I know. Not much, really. I do know that all things end, whether it is a day, a month, a season, a year. And yet years don’t really end, now that I think about it; they just roll over into a new calendar year with no clear demarcation between the end and the beginning, the old and the new (except for a new calendar, of course.) We’re still the same, though I wonder what it would be like if those resolutions could be actual changes, not just feeble plans to make changes that so quickly dissipate in the sameness of the new year.
To be honest, I’m not sure many of us could handle real changes, to wake up on January first, suddenly fit and healthy, disciplined and kind, rich and satisfied, or whatever it is that we wish we were that we aren’t. I suppose it’s healthier in the long run to realize we are who we are, with an ability (or rather an inability) to make any significant changes to ourselves or our lives from one year to the next, though changes do happen.
Maybe that’s the “end” I feel so acutely right now — the end of hoping to be the person I wish I were and a greater acceptance of the person I am.
Or it could be, as I said, that the feeling of “end” is nothing more significant than a simple awareness that this is the end of the year, a thing in itself, not a prelude to something else.
Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.