I really don’t believe that the onset of a new year is anything to be celebrated or to be unusually excited about. If it’s the newness of a new year that is supposedly cause for celebration, then why not celebrate the newness of every new day? Or, better still, why not celebrate the newness of every new moment?
I haven’t done anything special on New Year’s Eve for years now. There was a time, though, when I just had to go out and ‘hang around’ at a noisy New Year’s party, dance to loud music, gossip non-stop and eat myself sick, trying to convince myself that I was having a ‘whale of a time’ and hoping that the rest of the year would be an uninterrupted experience of the same. Those were times when I was given to believe that New Year’s Eve (and life in general) was all about ‘having fun’ and titillating the senses to the hilt. It was all about ME: about me supposedly having a ‘sooooper’ time.
Thankfully, however, good sense now prevails. The evening of the 31st of December has, for some years now, been just like another as far as I am concerned. I read a book, say my prayers, curl up in bed and am fast asleep by 10 o’clock.
That’s what I did this New Year’s Eve, too.
An eminently sensible way to mark the occasion, don’t you think?
But there are other, less staid, ways to observe New Year’s Eve if you still think it’s special, I discovered from two friends of mine the other day. If you insist on celebrating it, I learnt from their example, New Year’s Eve need not necessarily be the excuse for banal (and expensive) ‘fun and frolic’ that we’ve been programmed by business houses and the media to believe it to be. Instead, you could it make it an opportunity for your spiritual growth while sharing happy moments with people in many ways less fortunate than you.
Like me, Tinky spent this New Year’s Eve at home. But before turning in for an early night she wrote out a New Year’s email message to five of her girl friends, reflecting on how she felt they had exercised a positive influence in her life that year. Each one, she explained, had played their own specific role in helping her grow spiritually, bringing her joy and peace. Although she didn’t mention it, she, too, had contributed to their spiritual evolution that year through her presence, love and care.
I think Tinky’s gesture was truly meaningful—and a beautiful spiritual exercise. How often do we care to acknowledge, as Tinky did in her letter, how much we owe to others? Why do we so often find it difficult to appreciate the goodness of others and to thank them for it? Why is it that while we so easily remember (and love to constantly obsess about) the wrongs that others may have done to us and the hurt they may have caused, we very rarely permit ourselves to think of the good that they may have done too? Conversely, why do we love to recall the good things we’ve done to others but rarely, if ever, even admit (leave alone apologize for) the wrong we may have done to them?
Tinky’s little New Year’s Eve e-missive set me thinking about all these important existential questions.
Tinky is thinking of doing something else very touching to mark the onset of the new year. She’s planning to buy a box of biscuits and take them along to a home for mentally-challenged people and share it with them.
Isn’t that lovely?
Bala, a mother of two boys, isn’t the partying-type either. This New Year’s Eve, her children invited their friends home, and she cooked them a special meal. After they had eaten, her sons asked her to get a cake for them.
“No cake-wake!” she said to them. “We are going to do something different to celebrate New Year’s!”
Bala ordered several boxes of sweets and drove her sons and their friends to a hostel for blind children. She got the boys to distribute the sweets to the kids and spend time chatting with them.
The boys had never experienced anything of the sort before. Initially, they were hesitant: some of them had never seen a blind person, and none of them had ever talked to one. But soon they found themselves having a wonderful time. The hostel kids enjoyed themselves thoroughly, too. “They held our hands and sang songs and laughed. It was really so lovely!” Bala excitedly told me this morning.
That was another beautiful way of welcoming the new year, wasn’t it?
Thanks Tinky and Bala for those beautiful New Year’s gifts! Who knows, your example might be enthuse me to celebrate New Year’s Eve again—and in the manner that you did!
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