I never force myself to write. Those who actually follow this blog (all two of you) will probably notice there are usually months between posts. I feel that when writing is forced it comes across in the words, and they feel hollow and strained and devoid of true meaning. I write when I have something to say, and most of the time, I just have nothing to say.
That being said, I am currently in Paris. My mother booked an impromptu trip two weeks before Christmas, so here I am freezing my tits off on New Years Eve. Shortly before I left, someone very dear to me who is one of the two people who actually garners enjoyment from my writing (the other being my Mum) insisted that I have to write something whilst I’m here, preferably sitting in a cramped cafe drinking something alcoholic.
Never one to let down a friend I find myself at a table roughly the size of my shoe, cramped next to a man halfway through his third cup of coffee and his seventh cigarette, drinking a Hot Chocolate laced with Baileys. The Opéra National de Paris looms over me. In true opulent fashion, golden busts of famous composers, Motzar and Beethoven among them, line the facade, looking down upon the milling masses, judging my sloppy syntax and terrible prose. The pressure to produce something half decent is on.
The hot topic is the dawn of a new year. Whilst it is 5:00pm here, it is 3:00am back home, and I have had the pleasure of experiencing the ticking over of the calendar once already via social media from afar. After my best Attenborough-style investigation what I can deduce is that…
…New Years Eve is a fucking depressing time.
For all the buzz about resolutions, bright beginnings and positive outlooks there lays under it all a solid foundation of regret and moaning. For every Instagram I saw of someone gushing about how amazing their 2017 was there were nine assuring themselves and anyone reading that 2018 is going to be THEIR year. That’s the problem with positive change; for it to exist there has to have been a negative experience.
Was everyone’s 2017 really that shit? I find it frightening to think that so many people can take the entirety of all their experiences in a calendar year, divide them into good and bad, and conclude that the bad’s rule the majority, deeming the year a failure. I would never try to marginalise a persons experiences, but surely not everyone had such a bad time! I know the original Batman died but at least it wasn’t Bowie again.
I think what irks me most is that people suddenly decide that the stroke of midnight will be the spark that will light the fire of their drastic change of fortune. Behavioural psychology tells us that we are far less in control of our behaviours and attitudes than we think we are, and the idea that we can drastically change them whenever we want is woefully arrogant. A friend of mine posted on Snapchat that she was done with fuckbois, and would be avoiding them in the new year. Unfortuantely for her, the choice of ones sexual and romantic partner is driven by an unconscious process deeply rooted in childhood observations of paternalistic behaviours and often requires deep insight and therapy to identify and change. But good luck to her, I’m sure when the next “Heyyyyy” comes around, she’ll do the right thing.
It’s been about 5 years since I last made a New Years resolution. The theory was that if it got half-way through winter and I was concerned I’d put on a few too many comfort-kilos I’d do something about it in July, not wait till January. The other reason was simply that none of them stuck. Maybe I shot too high, or maybe I am just inherently lazy and complacent (it’s definitely that), but I was tired of disappointing myself. That’s the problem with making promises to yourself; when you break them, you are both perpetrator and victim.
The issue is that New Years is the time when people try to break habits. The habit of watching too much TV, or eating too much and exercising too little, or drinking too much Prosecco and not enough water. Whatever it may be, people decide that enough is enough, and on January first they’re putting down the wine and picking up bottle of Evian instead.
One of the most valuable lessons my mother taught me is that habits cannot be broken, they can only be replaced. One simply cannot just drop a behaviour they have, they must find another vice to cope with the loss. That’s why so many smokers compensate by eating when they try to quit. About 5 years ago I took this advice and tried to do something about my computer gaming habits, which were, if I were to be honest, becoming a little too impactful on my sleeping/eating/living and general existence. I decided to kill two birds with one stone, the other bird being my embarrassing physical condition and ‘doughy’ physique.
I became a ‘fitness enthusiast’ which is the polite way to say that I joined a cult called Crossfit. Thankfully, I left the cult behind after a couple of years, but kept the passion for keeping myself in shape and cut my gaming down to respectable levels. Whilst that transformed me from a loveable dork into a pretentious, alienating douchemonster who wears sleeveless t-shirts, at least I’ll live longer.
I feel that this entire piece has only existed so far to shit on people who may have had a less-than-adequate year and fluff my sense of self-satisfaction at growing a pair of pectorals. This may be due to the fact that I’m sitting outside in the middle of a Parisian winter, or that the coffee I just drank cost $7.40 in Aussie dollarydoos. In truth, I’m glad if people want to make a positive change in their lives; I would never condemn someone for trying to better themselves.
So if 2017 was crap, let it be so. Reflect on it, learn from it, don’t let its legacy be a self-deprecating Instagram. If you want to change something you’re doing, find something else you’d rather do that roll with that instead. And next time Brad sends you a message at 2am, read it, leave it, and eat an entire Cheesecake instead. You deserve it.