Columbia Star

Happy New Year

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation



One of the very, very few positive things about 2020 was a new double album by a grizzled, long time Americana band called Reckless Kelly. I first learned of them because of a song titled “Ragged as the Road I’m On.” A bit later, “You Cared Enough to Lie,” a twisted love song, caught my attention. I have followed the Braun Brothers, the band’s cofounders, and their fellow musicians since.

Their latest effort is a two record offering—at least half of them world class. “Just Another New Year’s Day” is a song about starting over and making plans to improve oneself at the start of a new year. The song addresses how hard habits are to break and what we should do to improve ourselves. It’s not among my favorites. But the idea raised some conflicts in my quickly eroding brain.

The narrator is claiming this time he’s gonna change his life and start doing better… on New Year’s Day. Later on, the song asks the rhetorical question, Why do we always try to change but fail most of the time? One of the reasons might be setting an unreasonable goal based on arbitrary dates. That’s why I distrust New Year’s Resolutions and such. It’s just tomorrow. And we are making this a lot worse this year.

I likely heard my first reference to the sheer horribleness of 2020 in June. The inference then, and it hasn’t changed, was if we can survive until 1-1-2021, things will magically get better because we install the brand new National Parks Calendar on the office wall. I’m hearing that sentiment more and more.

The pandemic is raging at its worst since we first heard of it. We’ve grown sick of Doing the Right Thing. And now hope, in the form of a vaccine, is in the near future. But if you are planning on spending spring in New Orleans, you might be disappointed. Circumstances, even under the best of conditions, likely won’t be improved enough to “get back to normal” by then.

You already know the issues. And nothing magically happens when the calendar turns to a new date. The new year just keeps all our time keepers synced. No supernatural phenomenon transforms everything to a different place.

When we reach a new birthday we aren’t magically a year older. We might get cake and presents, but we are only one day older. Aging happens every waking morning. Trust me on this one.

Decades ago, I moved back to Birmingham. Eating out more with old friends and exercising less made my pants tighter. One morning, on my way in, I stopped for a newspaper. As I bent over to retrieve the paper, the button holding my Dockers together released with so much force it ricocheted across the sidewalk. It’s a wonder no one lost an eye.

That day I became more serious about exercise and portion control. My pants got looser. I can’t recall the actual date because it didn’t matter. It was time to change. Surviving the pandemic will require similar focus. We can start by being less selfish and believing scientists and doctors.

And quit listening to politicians. That’s stupid anytime.

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