New Years: Because You’re Worthless

Hark! The first comedic end of year auto-response cometh!

“This office is closed from 16th of December until the 6th of January. In case of an emergency please call 000.”

Hahaha, fuck you.

With palms pressed down on my face as if kneading soggy dough it dawned upon me: the end was nigh, it was that time.

Time for lists. Time to read about The True Meaning of Christmas (truer every year!). Time to whip out your Polka Dot 50’s Housewife Dress and pretend Kate from accounts is your mate because guess who just booked a staff party and the theme is Most Irritating Fashion Trends of 2013!

Welcome to the end of the year. My least favourite of ends.

Many people hate December for many good reasons: expenses, family gatherings, fruit cake. But beyond these momentary and privileged bothers sits the truth of our annual despair: value. I’m not talking about the resale of your New Year’s festival ticket (“OMG PINGERS”) or the cost of the iPhone 4 cover your grandma just mistakenly brought for your iPad Mini, I just mean the individual and how we choose to value ourselves in a single year. I get it as a concept but also, it’s pretty fucked.

The silly/stupid/arsehat season is for all logistical purposes a perfect time to reflect. Work stops, the days have more hours to review so we perform a kind of stocktake on the last three-hundred-and-sixty-something days to calculate what we are worth. Are you single? Are you wealthy? Are you ill? Few of us have the “luck” of being told by a blog or newspaper how comparatively successful our years were, so we create our own Most Memorable Moments. We award and glorify the big events while gutting out the small ones; the Beyoncé concert overwrites the romantic busker, the fine dining experience erases the night in with a cuppa and bikkies. This goes on until nothing but The Best & Worst list remains. Maybe that’s why everything seems like “it just happened yesterday” around now…

That pressures of convincing ourselves our year deserves a gold star is hardly an individual experience; with all this stress it’s no wonder so many couples fall apart just as the great changing of the digits approaches. We look at our partner and question whether we want to take them through the gates to January. The mythical score card of fights and slip-ups in a relationship tears us in two just in time to make sure we feel miserable as the countdown comes.

Before I hung up my headphones to focus on my own music, I casually presented on triple j and would volunteer for the full-time slots over Christmas. Not being a comedian and with interviews running pretty dry, there was little more for me to do than tell people to vote in The Hottest 100 and let them know what songs they had just heard. For the most part radio was an art I never quite mastered, rules of defamation and political neutrality on a government funded radio-station were lost on me, but one thing my Program Directors did manage to get through was this rule of three:

1. Tell people what just happened. 2. Tell people what is happening. 3. Tell people what is about to happen.

If you managed this, you had at least proven yourself somewhat useful as a presenter. And somehow this rule of broadcasting worked its way into my brain and became the system for how I valued my year.

1. Have I done enough? 2. Am I doing enough? 3. Are the few plans I have on the horizon worth listening for?

At least on radio if things had gone array you could just tell people there was an “epic flume remix” coming up and all would be forgiven.

I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to judge my year as a single positive or negative unit then attempt to act as if it never happened just because a new, even more depressing Leunig calendar arrived. I think there is a better way to exist. I think we do ourselves a disservice by even trying to attempt to categorise our years as good or bad because it’s not just a year that we trivialise, it’s everything. Our lovers, our family, our lives.

Is this all some wank of a musician trying to say, “live in the now?” I don’t know? Maybe.

We’ll send group messages hoping for a response during the Hallmark and Kodak moments because we worry if anyone cares. Try and know they do. They cared all year and they care now. Even if the last thing they did was break up with you, they still care, they care and and will be thinking of you as the clock strikes midnight. They’ll be thinking of you as the sun rises. And when it sets again the next day.

We will wait for this year to die and await the bubbling baby of January 1: Untouched and innocent. We’ll make resolute promises to it like a mother and father, then, becoming the child ourselves on New Year’s eve, drink ourselves into a small coma, waking up groggy and wailing like the day we were born.

But I doubt I’ll change your mind to not worry so much. I don’t think I’m convinced myself. Most likely we’ll wait for the greenish light to swell over the planet and be washed clean, hoping to God that this time we won’t fuck it up. Please God, don’t let me fuck it up this time, let this year be a little easier. Let the depression fade. Please. Help me show my lovers, family and friends that I care but don’t make me need them to feel validated. Let those I’ve hurt know I’m sorry but let me not be saddled with guilt for which I cannot ask them to alleviate.

I’m not sure how to end this. Happy New Years? Happy today? You did fine. You made it again and we all did just fine and there is value in that. There is value in yesterday, today and tomorrow and nobody is judging you for what that is, and if they are, tell them to fuck off.

Written by Brendan Maclean


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