The new year lies ahead of you like a book, and you think to yourself, “365 pages! Of small print? I’m never going to get through all that. I’m only seven pages in and so far it’s mostly description. When’s something going to happen?” But you have no choice but to read this book because there’ll be a test at the end. And, no, you cannot skip to the last page to see how it all turns out. And now you’ve taken the book into the bath with you and, just when it seemed like there was going to be no action whatsoever, something shocking happens, like someone barging in on you in the bath. It’s Pope Francis! And he’s got a chainsaw! And look: you’ve gone and dropped the book in the bath. So now your year is all wrinkled and hard to handle. Way to go.
Or maybe the year ahead is like a journey. As journeys go, it’s a relatively close one. Nonetheless, you better pack snacks because we are not stopping. The thing is, we don’t know where this journey is taking us, which is crazy and impulsive when you think about it, and when you do think about it, you think back to that old boyfriend or girlfriend who complained that you weren’t a risk taker, that you played it too safe, that you looked ridiculous in that hat, and now you think, “Take that, ol’ ex of mine! I’m on a journey of unknown destination, though probably just a couple of times around the block and straight home because I have work tomorrow.” Make sure to wear your seatbelt.
Or perhaps the year ahead is like a Journey song. You know the one. You’ve heard it over and over. Everywhere you go you hear that song. And you think to yourself, “I can’t handle it if that’s the only song I’m going to hear this year, and is it really appropriate for a funeral?” After all, you’re just a small town girl living in a lonely world. You took the midnight train to anywhere but still you couldn’t get away from that song. And yet, you have to admit, you kind of like it. You know all the lyrics, and it fills you with a sense of nostalgic comfort, even if it does get stuck in your head and go on and on and on and on. In 2014, don’t stop “Don’t Stop Believing.’”
Scratch that. The year is nothing like a Journey song. Get a grip.
The year ahead may, however, be like a recipe. You start off with only the freshest ingredients… or whatever’s leftover in your fridge; it all comes down to your standards, really. Planning and preparation are key, as are one or three glasses of wine. You take a heaping of positive energy, mix in some wisdom and half a pound of love. Clearly you don’t need any sugar because this is already syrupy enough. But after another glass of wine, you find yourself stirring in a trifling of mendacity and a soupcon of pretentiousness. Next thing you know you’re adding a dash of disappointment and a smattering of hard lessons. Garnish with bitter tears. More wine? Really? Now look what you’ve done: you’ve gone and let your year burn on the stove. Great. Maybe 2014 is the year you finally get some help. And some cooking lessons.
Or maybe the year ahead is like a 1950s Japanese movie monster, spawned from the radioactive waste of the previous year, rampaging through January and February, laying waste to March through June, celebrating a very special anniversary with family and friends in July, warding off countless personal attacks in August through November, then completely bombed in December. You kind of feel sorry for the year in the end.
Actually, the year lies ahead like a blog post; it feels like it will never end, but don’t worry, it does.
A version of this post originally aired on CBC Radio’s “Breakaway” on January 7, 2014.