The Curmudgeonly January

The New Year generally rings in with a lot of fanfare. There is confetti and fireworks (literally and with a lucky smooch at midnight, maybe figuratively as well.) People are smiling, reveling, making merry, as if the New Year were a decorated military hero or American Idol winner returning to her hometown. Which is weird, right? I mean was the last year so terrible that its dying seconds warrant raucous celebration? What gives the New Year the right to waltz around as if it were the belle of the ball, well-liked but without anyone really knowing why, its supposed awesomesauce based on wispy rumors and dreamy notions? The Platonic Ideal of a Year, one thinks, this one will be it. Bah, I say. Double Bah with a dash of Humbug.

It should be clear by now that I'll never wear the dubious distinction of January’s Biggest Fan. You'll drag me kicking and screaming into the wee hours of the 31st as I clutch the past year to my chest like a security blanket. I love me some December (pretty lights! jolly 50s-era songs about red noses and white wonderlands! scarves!) but January is evil. Okay, maybe evil's a bit harsh, let’s try curmudgeonly instead, which a quick Google search defines as crusty and brusque. It sounds about right if you personify the grey skies and the muddy streets and the 'here we go-agains' muttered beneath one’s breath. Here goes another year, another notch to add to life’s tally, another chapter closed, the next one already stomping forward, unstoppable like one of those massive, perfectly-synchronized North Korean armies.

I don't like January for the simple reason that it reminds me of the passage of time, in a way that birthdays and anniversary's don't. (Perhaps because nobody busts out Top-10s or Best-of lists when they tell you to blow out the candles.) I am struck with a feeling of being older, the past year vanished, the only evidence of its existence left in Timelines and wilting memories. 2013 will be the last full year of my twenties. I think of the old adage about how you make your habits in your first 30 years and afterwards they make you (kind of ominous-sounding, isn't it? For some reason robots always pops into my head). I’m not sure I’m cool with this. My twenties were (whoops, let’s not get ahead of ourselves) are great. Stupendous, really. I learned and I became and from a young seed I sprouted into a full-petaled adult. Except here’s the thing: I am already starting to forget. Like the warmth of an afternoon sun fading into twilight, who I was and how I changed is blurring away. I confess I am afraid of forgetting, of someday having my skin grow crusty and hard, the sum of my habits becoming the exoskeleton I wear for the rest of my days.

But lo and behold, it's January. Nothing is inevitable in the looming new year, and the month is nothing if not ripe for sober proclamations and hand-to-heart resolutions. Here’s mine: write. Write about the lessons now so familiar they can be recited in your sleep. Write about the insights not yet sighted, their silhouettes blurry like the edges of a distant shore. Write about the job, the joy and chaos of designing and building. Write at least once a week. Write to learn how to write, and write to understand, the process itself like a looking glass through which you may yet discover a strange new world. Write so something meaningful can be said to others. Write to be accountable, write with honesty. Above all, write to preserve the scrap of an age, a voice; write so you won’t forget.

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