Happy 2016!

It seems to me that of all things we carry with us towards another year, nothing is more invigorating than the belief that life will be brighter on the other side of the New Year’s Eve clock. And as soon as the small hand inches its way northwards, hope rises. I see it on the faces glowing with coke, rum and laughter as people toast one another, call out to loved ones, take liberties with acquaintances and decide that the new dawn calls for a celebration, as though we each have, individually, achieved something momentous in our lives.

It’s a reflection of our vanities, I suppose.

I stepped off the news treadmill for two weeks leading into 2016. It was a calibrated decision. I did not want to read of nor be aware of what was happening in our City or in our World. I wanted to engage in that feeling of hope and the only way I could conceive of doing that was to disengage from reality.

And thus I found it easy enough to participate in the expectation that 2016 might be different.

That the rise of the new sun would reveal that “trump” was merely a trick playing card in the pack; that the “silent majority” would not be rooting for “political incorrectness;” that immigration had not fallen into such disfavor; that brutal ISIS beliefs did not hold sway over swathes of dispossessed people; that the world was war free; that the rains came on time; that floods, hurricanes and earthquakes were encountered less frequently; that insidious viruses and bacteria were not finding homes in our bodies and that our police blotters recorded remarkably low numbers of petty crimes.

Our excited, alcoholically enabled, heralding of January 1 did provide a sliver of light in our melancholic considerations.

On Jan 3 of this year the newspapers arrived and the magazines were delivered and once again I faced black, white, colored and superscripted descriptions of fear, dread, threat and loss. The earth began its new revolution, and the headlines expressed the relentlessness of our persuasions.

On reflection though, life’s problems seemed familiar and containable on the promise of a fresh sun cycle. For many of us, life is immutable from one day to another. Change is infinitesimal, too small to register. And, perhaps there’s nothing wrong with that. The good stays and the bad lingers. So, it seems to me, that we must find new ways of dealing with the stasis of our lives in the New Year, new day, or new season.

And familiarity and changelessness seem reassuring and hopeful, even into January, yes, even as I examine our headlines. Here’s to an enduring 2016.

Jaya Padmanabhan is Editor of India Currents.

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