01 January 2009

Have a Happy New Year everyday!

Several years ago I had a coworker several years my senior. She was a sweet lady who nevertheless had certain idiosyncrasies that bothered me. Once she told me she had just stopped eating milk products. The reason was that she had a doctor's appointment coming up and that she didn't want the doctor to get mad at her for not keeping her cholesterol under control. I tried to explain to her in vain that she was supposed to keep her cholesterol down for her own good not for the sake of her doctor's feelings.

On another occasion around the beginning of a new year, she had experienced a minor misfortune. That made her declare that she was afraid the rest of the year was going to be equally bad. She apparently believed that how a particular year would turn out in terms of one's personal affairs was predetermined and a bad thing happening in January was an ill omen for the rest of the year.

About a week ago I found yet another Google Book that attracted my attention. This one was called Science from an easy chair by Ray Lankester, published in 1913. The following paragraph from the book reminded me of my friend (the 1st sentence is referring to Santa Claus).

…it is not only with and for children that we make-believe at this season—we all of us, more or less, indulge in a make-believe about the New Year. As the clock strikes…at midnight on December 31st,…[a] physical change has set in—the Old Year is dead and gone, and the New Year, something tangible, which you can let in at the door or the window—has just come into being, and is there waiting for us. We are, of course, indulging in “make-believe,” for there is no New Year, with any natural, noteworthy thing to mark its commencement, starting at midnight on December 31st. New Years begin every day and hour, and it is by no means agreed upon by all nations of the earth to pretend that the 1st of January is the critical day which we must regard as that portentous epoch, the beginning of the New Year.
Lankester is absolutely right; the beginning of a new year is an entirely arbitrary nonevent in our lives. Yet, on this occasion I am also reminded of an old Turkish saying, deliye her gün bayram, the literal translation of which means that to a crazy person every day is an occasion for a celebration. So let us follow Lankester's wisdom and at the same time, be a little crazy this year and celebrate a New Year everyday!

That way, if you happen to have a misfortune one day, you won't have to worry that the rest will also be bad, because everyday will be a new beginning!

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