10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1….HAPPY NEW YEAR!
And then I sigh. I just realized last year that I have begun so many new years with a simple sigh. Not a smile, sometimes a kiss, but always, always a sigh.
Ben Hecht said, “What better is there for than to sigh for happiness, yesterday’s or tomorrow’s.” Tis true, Ben, but this girl always sighs in that very present moment when the clock turns twelve. It’s one of the rare times when my soul speaks, as if to combine the sentiments of well done, behold the new, and hello you gorgeous milestone. I sigh for the new blank canvas and promise of a new year. I sigh for the love and laughter experienced in the prior trip around the sun. I sigh in gratitude for the people who are here, and for the memories of those I lost. I sigh for the gift of time, that sacred rhythm that moves me through verse and refrain of my existence. I sigh for the one collective moment on this earth where, hour by hour, we take a brief time out from division and strife. I sigh because there is a shiny ball on TV that reminds me that there is happiness worth sighing for, even if it’s nothing more than the fact that I’m still here with the ability to sigh.
There is always a brief moment of awe that precedes the sigh. It’s that moment when you realize how everything worked together to culminate in this one summative moment. Perhaps you turn to your parent(s) and hold immense gratitude for medical care that keeps them here. Or, you turn to your spouse and are thankful for the partnership that has endured years of weathering life together. Perhaps you turn to your children and realize that they are turning out ok after all. Or it can be the gaze from a new love, filling you with wonder for what the year may hold. Maybe it’s a room filled with friends and new acquaintances that, amidst the cruelties of the world, remembered to include you. Maybe it’s a raucous public event, or maybe it’s a quiet in-the-recliner kind of memory. A newborn’s peaceful face, a picture of a loved one, a midnight text, an unexpected kiss, the heightened sense of forgiveness, or the welcoming of a new tax year… everyone has their awe. Nevertheless, this moment of auld lang sigh is a denouement of every morsel you packed into the weeks and months of 2017.
Humans love expressing themselves. It begins with simple cries at birth and pushes toward the creation of exquisite music and art. Now entrenched in the quagmire of social media, we have countless opportunities to share instant opinions on everything from pizza crust to parking spaces, from all-out celebrating to pointed shaming. So many thoughts and feelings scream from behind the screens, and so much of it is laced with sarcasm and passive aggression. This world seems to be so busy passionately stating, defending, communicating, commiserating, and speculating that we forget to notice this precious breath known as a sigh. Or if we do, it’s a sigh of disbelief, a sigh of anger or pity, a sigh of feeling stressed or embarrassed; certainly not the sigh of a new year.
This year, I encourage you to spend more time enjoying that moment of your sigh. It’s so primal, even antiquated, but it’s so very real. If you don’t believe me, think back to 2000 when the lights stayed on and the banking system didn’t fail. That is enough proof that we all collectively sigh.
As the ball falls, as the countdown begins and voices grow louder in anticipation, prepare for that moment of wondrous awe and the breath that follows. It’s a magical moment I don’t want you to miss.
Happy New Year!