The preponderance of 2012 year-ender blogs on my social network feeds in the past few days had me thinking about the reason why people find writing at the end of the year especially appealing. Admittedly, most of these entries were made mostly by people who have a reasonably regular output, but my dashboard and my band’s Twitter feeds seemed to be busier than usual, a large part which can be directly attributed to blogs covering reviews of the year, both personal and otherwise. Clearly, I am not guiltless of this charge of inundating feeds and I am may even be indicted further either with being opportunism or laziness because I have only put out two entries since my 2011 year-ender review.
Nevertheless, I think this phenomenon is interesting, if only in the same way that crowd and mob behavior is a favorite area of study in psychology. I have various conjectures as to why people suddenly feel the urge to type and publish their entries online this time of the year. One of these is a general sense of thankfulness that has everyone mentally sighing I’ve made it through a year again. The past year ending provides a highly appropriate backdrop for this collective feeling of relief because of another eschatological event aborted, but I think this is the case every year.
The other reason, which in my opinion is a far stronger force than the previous one, is that there is a particular kind of mental acuity that one acquires as the end of anything comes within view. The closure of a project, the end of a lifetime, or in a few minutes, the unfastening of the past year’s calendar to make space for a fresh and new one, all seem to have the capacity to magnify our powers of recollection. I first encountered this concept in Christopher Hitchens’ foreword to Hitch-22, where he talks about how reading about his own [mistakenly researched] death in an exhibit catalog had the ability to focus one’s mind (or his at least). He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer shortly after his memoir’s publication (and died a year and a half thereafter), but reading his writings on his own disease this year [posthumously published as Mortality] afforded readers not only his mordant insights on the experience of someone living and dying with cancer, but also gave us a theater in which we can witness how things can become clearer as the light at the end of the tunnel starts to illuminate everything as it closes in, or as I prefer, as we approach it.
I rarely have this spell of clarity, focus, and concentration [I should endeavor to be able to summon it at will next year, I know] so I shall make the best of this by falling into the same trap that those I’ve sneered at a few paragraphs prior have fallen. I had hoped for a better year on this very day exactly a year ago, and as I’ve told my friends the past few days, some parts of the year felt really bad as things were happening but looking back, the year was stuffed with good events overall. So without further ado, here are what I deem to be the best moments and themes of 2012.
Observing change as it happens. This year saw my closest friends welcome new phases in their lives. Aldus saw the arrival of Julia, Zig wed the love of his life, and Mikey took his career in public relations from zero to sixty in record time. All these things happened right before my eyes and now, as opposed to just being a conjecture in drunken conversation, things have really become different. One can’t help but sound selfish when describing how these changes have affected the time we get to spend making music in the studio and general gentlemanly leisures, but a part of me was actually pleased to see my closest confidants grow right before my eyes. Not that they’re immature children in men’s bodies, but rather the good traits I’ve seen in them years before were magnified by fresh demands and new challenges that appeared as the fabric of change gradually draped over their respective lives.
My point on denouements making the engines of cognition and observation run hotter seems to be relevant here as well. With my friends going on with their lives, I now had to ask myself: what am I supposed to do now? My answer to this question is still imperfect, but what I do know now is that I have to get on with my own life, whatever that may look like. At this point, I can now quote Horace without irony: non sum qualis eram, i.e. I am not as I were. I did physical feats that I didn’t think would be possible. I saw my musical tastes change. I moved out of my old apartment. I rediscovered dormant vocations. These examples of change clearly don’t add up to a coherent picture of my life in the future and I have to admit, it kind of worries me. That aside, I take comfort in the fact that I’ve been able to deal with change and that if my new life suddenly appears over the horizon and takes more discernible shape, I know that I have a fighting chance of dealing with it decently at the very least.
Visiting new cities abroad. One of the great disappointments of 2011 was that I never got to travel to some of the places I had hoped to go to. This year, the pendulum swung the other way and I had the opportunity visit the US and Canada as part of a touring crew [more on this later]. I’ve now seen New York and immediately saw why people loved and hated it and met the Pacific Ocean from the shores of California [I now bear the opprobrium of not having touched its waters first on our shores, but that is something I am looking to remedy]. Going to these cities also afforded me the chance to see some of the most important works of art in history, in my opinion. If anything, these trips only reinforced the idea that traveling to a new city every so often allows one to upgrade his or her mental software, and it is never the case that one remains the same person when he returns from a trip someplace (notice again the theme of change in my person).
Coming full circle. The trips to North America will always have a special place in my heart not only because they were my first visits to the New World, but also because it was where my teenage dreams had culminated. The Eraserheads had been an important part of my life – the choice to make music, among other things – and joining them on their North American Reunion Tour was nothing short of exhilarating. As a roadie, I was officially in the line of duty as I was traveling, but this also meant that my lifelong dream of working with the group had come to fruition, albeit not in a strictly musical context. Of course, now that that’s been closed off, the question of what to do next again manifests its nagging sound.
Never leaving things unsaid. At the beginning of this year, I saw a post on Tumblr showing a picture of a book [or perhaps a journal] titled The Book of Things Never Said. Whether the journal really existed or not is not important; what was crucial in seeing that post was that I knew at that very moment that I never want to die and leave a book’s worth of sentiments never mouthed. Considerations of prudence and decency of course will never make this completely possible but 2012 saw me making sure that the majority of this tome remained blank.
Call me old-fashioned, but the ideas of ‘hanging out’, ‘just enjoying what we have now’, and ‘allowing things to run their natural course’ as far as matters of romance go never appealed to me. This year, the resolve to be clear with my intentions with whomever it was I was interested in turned from strong to immovable. I’m glad to say that I genuinely fell in love twice this year and admitted it in all earnestness to the women involved. Both instances turned out to be one-way streets, but for some reason I felt that I walked away with a lot of dignity after having done so. Perhaps this is why the distinction between regret and remorse needs to be made: the former is felt after one has chosen not to do anything and the latter when one has done something.
The presence of great company. I hasten to use the word awesome to describe the people I met this year because of the cheapness it has acquired from reckless overuse from a lot of folks these days. Engaging in enlivened conversations and being in the warm company of these newfound friends have truly given me a sense of awe at the discovery that such wonderful people exist. This year alone, I found fellow heathens, a confidant, a new housemate, and several people I could just call up for a prolonged conversation over coffee about things that mutually matter.
I also permanently deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts this year, which surprised a lot of people. Some found this measure too drastic and of course, and with this came their curiosity as to why I had done it. I just told them that I found that Facebook and Twitter cheapened personal relationships and that these two have been effectively preventing me from pursuing genuine rapport and the company of my friends. As a result, this meant that I had to physically meet people or call them if I wanted to talk or know what has been going on with them. Truth be told, the expenses that came with these meetings (drinks, coffee, and dinner can rack up quite a bill) were nothing compared to the pleasure one gets after spending time with a person whose choice of words you can discern, affectations you can perceive, and sentiments you can infer.
Deleting these social networking accounts also allowed me to reassess which people really mattered to me. I really believe that it’s impossible for one to have a thousand friends, and opting out of these platforms gave me the chance to keep my socials to the essentials [a phrase I’ve used liberally this year], which meant that I’ve had to accept the fact that there are some people that don’t matter to me anymore [a sense of apathy that I am confident is well-reciprocated] and have decided to go on with their lives without me in tow. That’s well within their prerogative to do so, of course, but that also means they grant me the liberty to do so in return myself.
2013 will be with us in a few moments and like last year, I look forward to the new events that will unfold. This will also be the year I turn 30, so hopefully the year will be a milestone not only in terms of age but in terms of discovery. I have no clear goals for the coming year so far, except for breaking a personal record in a local powerlifting meet and finally getting some other projects off the ground, but I am quite optimistic that 2012 has prepared me well for the year that’s about to arrive.
Happy New Year, everyone!