It’s a day of rejoicing as we all look forward to a fresh year, nourishing the hope that all our aspirations come true. Since the birth of the new millennium, January 1 has had an extra special significance in my family with my niece Naina being born that day. So after y2k , New Year’s Day has called for a double celebration for us.
I have never believed in making New Year’s resolutions. The statistics of people who are successful in achieving their goals are rather unimpressive and stand at around 8%. For a multitude of reasons, an overwhelming majority either give up or fail in hitting the target, and in sheer humility, I feel I’m not an outlier from this group. Rather than setting any benchmarks for the upcoming 365 days (of course another day extra in the leap years), I simply wish that they bring in pleasant times for my family, friends, and dear ones.
As we welcome 2017, I look in retrospect at the bygone days, reliving the good and bad times, evaluating the hits and misses and anticipating prospects of what I might want to happen. For the world, 2016 was nothing less than a roller coaster ride with the twists and turns, the ups and downs. I reflect on some.
While the city of Rio de Janeiro entertained Brazilians and the entire world by hosting the summer Olympics, the bloodied face of a 5 year old rescued from rubble in Aleppo that same month broke hearts and spoke volumes about the untold miseries in Syria. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts to end the 50 year long civil war among fellow Colombians and set a lesson for humanity. On the other hand, violence around the world continued, and there were scars left by terrorist attacks in France, Belgium, Iraq, Turkey, and the USA to name just a few.
The dreams of many Americans to welcome the first female President of the United States remained unfulfilled in a rather dramatic and unexpected turn of events with Hillary Clinton losing the elections. The death of Fidel Castro marked the end of an era, and while Cubans in his homeland mourned his passing, it called for celebration for exiled Cubans in Florida who resisted his oppressive policies.
Immune engineering and the DNA App Store figured in the list of breakthrough technologies of the year. We are looking into a future where genetically engineered immune cells might save the lives of cancer patients and at a store which will give cheap and easy access to information about our genes that will warn us about health risks. At a diametrically opposite point, we have also heard about lives being at the mercy of nature as victims of the deadly Zika virus.
On the personal front, I have had my mixed bag of feelings. Three and a half months into the year, I lost the protective hand of my father who had held me tight, even when I was no longer a child, and who had never let me fall. The tide of life continues to flow, but the thought of his absence never ceases to leave my mind.
My better half and I had our silver jubilee this December. Sailing together for 25 years, we have held each other’s backs through the highs and lows of our journey and now look forward to many more years of togetherness. My college-going boy has had the experience of his life by embarking on a study abroad program in Europe in the summer. This was his first trip outside the country without his parents. Though time will tell, there’s no harm in convincing myself to accept that this exposure has made him independent and capable of handling things on his own.
I have never had strong political affiliations, but I will definitely miss President Obama in the White House in the upcoming year. This is a man who I feel embodied high moral standards and maintained finesse and dignity before the world. No matter what critics say, we can’t help but acknowledge the fact that he walked the nation through a phase of economic crisis and brought down unemployment by a good three percent.
And now for a few chirps from the brighter and lighter pages of my diary. On the entertainment spectrum, I got hooked on to the ABC series Designated Survivor. I have become a diehard fan of Kiefer Sutherland and look forward to more episodes of the show in March next spring. Amazon Echo, the wireless command and voice speaker device that I was initially the least crazy about, has become a good friend, playing my favorite songs when I’m working around, alone in the house. A mid-December family vacation in pleasantly warm Florida was a welcome change and the best way to relax our tired nerves at the fag end of 12 months.
At the end of every year, I invariably reflect on Alfred Tennyson’s “Ring out Wild Bells” which muses on the theme of renewal and rejuvenation for mankind. There is a call to embrace truth and deny all falsehood:
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
With the clock ticking past the old year and chiming in a new one, I wish that peace and happiness descend upon us, that fear leaves our hearts, that “after rain there’s a rainbow, after a storm there’s calm, after the night there’s a morning, and after an ending there’s a new beginning”. Here’s a toast to all: Have a fabulous New Year!