Why does everyone think the world is going to magically change when the calendar reads 2017 rather than 2016?
Well, not everyone does, of course. But the profound witch hunt against 2016 itself points me toward an aching that has not been filled. The deep-rooted desire that seems to be reaching through the computer screen at me through all of these sentiments stinks of a clamoring for renewal.
We seek the sense of ritualized and/or communally recognized renewal that we have so often lost in our society. But at least the construct of the calendar allows for some tiny shred of ritualized renewal to seep through. Ritual is important. Renewal is important. Declare it and honor it and renew yourself whenever you need. The calendar is not going to change your world—you are.
We all want to collectively come together and put something behind us. We crave this sense of community so profoundly that we grieve together online. We have lost the classic structures we held in more ancient ritualistic societies that provided us a space for community and experiential renewal. We want to collectively start over. Together.
We crave the theatre of New Year’s Eve to allow us the exhale that doesn’t feel like quite enough when we do it alone. We crave the psychological escape of a new month, presumably the real psychological thrill of a literal new page to hold in our fingers. We have anthropomorphized this year in a way that I have never seen before. We keep “othering” it. We keep separating ourselves from it, as we view it as a monster preying upon us rather than the result of a complex, collective interplay of cause and effect.
We are personifying time and we are presumably personifying the course and flow of the universe without any sense of connection or responsibility to it.
This type of thinking lies at the bedrock of our consciousness and our societies throughout time. We are tribally banding, sarcastically or not, against the force of time as if the calendar year 2016 is separated from the ebb and flow of time as a whole.
We are funneling collective trauma into abstract blame because we want it to be simply something inherently wrong with “2016.” An errant wire or a programming error, perhaps.
But we are also doing this because memes and tweets are succinct. Because we spread information in sound bites and quips. Because we summate complex emotional states into brevity and wit. The internet and the information age allows for many things, yes. More information, surely. We connect more, we open more, we say more. But at the same time, we simplify. We paint colors with fewer hues. We repeat. And we condense.
Our collective internet culture gives us a double edged sword, and in this case, a clue to our collective emotional state. Clamouring for community. Clamouring for connection. Clamouring for renewal. For release. Clamouring for a boogeyman—for someone or something to blame. For this to be an anomaly. For reality to be some sort of twilight zone paradox.
I hear what you’re saying. And I grieve with you. I honor the confusion, the pain, the shrouded path. I honor the need for renewal. I honor the desire for release, for a fresh start, for the universe to finally let up.
I honor what you say when you say “F*ck 2016.” But I also encourage a complex, deeply honest, hauntingly clear conversation about what we’re saying and what we want—what we need.
I would encourage you to find community, to find conscious recognition. To create ritual. To allow yourself an exhale. To find hope in prayer, in meditation, in dance, in strange song or in momentary reverence. Find peace in candlelight or revelry, in a nature walk or on a crowded bridge.
I would argue that it is possible that our societal rituals of getting drunk and partying into the new year might not be enough to satisfy us in the ways that we crave. They might, they might not. I encourage you to maybe find time at some point in the next few days to exhale. Communally, collectively, or all alone. In whatever way you find meaningful. To renew yourself. To allow yourself reflection, rebirth and release. In whatever way you find profound.
Do not close yourself the sacred. Do not fear the shadows. Do not simplify the world in a way that cuts you off from your profound, meaningful emotional world and inner life. The calendar is not going to change the world, you are.
Author: Lauren Suchenski
Image: Flickr/Alexandre Pereira
Editor: Callie Rushton