It was around 345 AM on Jan 1, 2017 and I came out to the balcony to start my day with mindful observation of the sky and creation around – it has been about a month since I have started this new habit. Typically, I am alone, undisturbed by anyone – the entire surrounding is very silent. But this day, I saw a number of bikes coming into our street and only then I realized that this is new year’s day and these young boys/girls must be coming back from new year parties. This got me thinking about the new year parties and the whole hype around celebrating new year…
I got a number of messages greeting me for the new year and lot of people wished me in person, but I could not understand what is so special about January 1. Please do not think that I am a negative person. For me, every day is a new day, a gift that is given to me to make the best use of my time here on Earth. To make a difference to the people around me using whatever talents I have been gifted with. So, every day is a day to cherish, a day to protect and to make the best use of. By putting extra emphasis on one of the days, what do we achieve?
I do agree that there are some legitimate uses of having a certain date as an anchor for planning purposes – so, using the eve of the new year to evaluate your goals and to set new goals is a good way to start the new year. But very few of us are in our full senses on this day to do this kind of reflective activity. Even if we do this goal-setting, very few of us actually make any progress on these goals – Ironically, for many of us, the next time we remember our new year resolutions is when the next new year hits us. That is how unmindful we are.
My son asked me what the new year celebration is about and what do people do in new year parties? Honestly, I don’t know the reason behind this excitement. There was a time in my life when I wanted to celebrate new year too – it was either 2003 or 2004 when I was working in Bangalore. We have heard a lot of things about how New year celebration is very special in MG Road in Bangalore. So, I and a few friends went to MG Road that night – we had dinner in some restaurant. Since none of us drink, our dinner was quick and we came to MG Road where there were lots and lots of people.
We were walking around wondering what will happen at 12 AM when the new year dawns. Nothing really earth-shaking happened – at the turn of clock, people started greeting each other with “Happy New Year” and different crowds were making lot of noise – there was lot of excitement in the air. But none of us could neither feel any excitement nor could we understand the reason for the excitement of these other groups who were so happy and excited. After sometime, all of us decided to get back home – due to the new year rush, we could not even get an auto/taxi to drop us back home and if my memory is correct, we ended up walking back home sorely disappointed.
Now coming back to the present moment: As I was reflecting on reason/purpose of the new year celebrations and parties, a thought came to me – Maybe it is the due to emptiness inside our souls that we need some excitement to keep us going. Some external event is needed to make us feel good as we have somehow lost the ability to stay with the present moment and feel calmness and happiness. Since we live in a world where there is little thought of God or purpose of life, the purpose of life has become satisfying our physical pleasures – even simple physical pleasure is not enough; we need to get intoxicated and lose our senses to really feel good and happy.
I recognize that my thoughts/questions might sound very discordant to most of us as we most of us ride whatever wave comes along that gives us excitement. The question to ask is – While we do all of this, are we really satisfied? After the new year goes, what do we get? Based on the little I know, many people get hangover and they feel bad on the first day of the new year – is this the best way to start the new year?
Before you start reacting to my thoughts, please think about your childhood – did you have new year parties then? For most of us who grew up in India, these kind of celebrations for new years and birthdays are new ideas that we grabbed or were thrust on us in the last 10 or 20 years, may be. Were we not happy then? Did we not reach our goals then?
For those of you who want to reflect, this is an area to reflect – are you living your life mindfully? What is the purpose of your life – is there something beyond physical pleasures? Is there something called a soul inside us that is craving for some food – what type of food will satisfy that soul?