I felt a strange feeling brewing on New Year’s Eve – and it wasn’t Christmas-over-indulgence-related. More foreboding. Heavy. I felt grinch-like, throwing the eyes up like Ebenezer Scrooge any time I got a message of good New Year cheer. Bah, humbug.
Our lights were out by 11pm.
I was wondering if middle-age cynicism, which I’m very much looking forward to, had set in. Perhaps. But I felt it was more of an allergic reaction specific to the hope and excitement that comes with New Year’s Eve. And I just wasn’t up for it this year. Looking back can be regret-inducing; forward, fear-inducing; and dealing with thoughts of an entire decade to come has been making me want to dig a big hole and bury my own head in it.
There are a few things at work.
I started the last decade in my early 30s, free and single, nothing to lose. Now the stakes are higher. I’m 42, that age where your health can start to play weird tricks on you, and with so much invested in my small family I dread to think of all the challenges we’ll face into the future – because there are always challenges. According to my husband there’s this thing whereby people worry in a vain bid to deter bad luck. Subconsciously of course. The idea that if you worry enough about what could, possibly go wrong, you’ll worry it ‘OK’. I take his point but I don’t think this is me. I don’t feel worried, per se – more a general sense of unease, which could also be a result of the equally non-sensical feeling that my luck may be running out. I know that a lot of people feel this way, many of whom may not even have been particularly lucky in life to date. But it’s just too easy for the mind to tell you that you don’t deserve things to get any better – and the thought of any worse might just be terrifying.
All in all, it’s most likely that I’m at a point in my life where I know how fortunate I am in many aspects of my life, while also realising that this decade will inevitably bring ups and downs, happiness and heartache, plenty of living and definitely some dying. Nothing can stay the same or should. But change – and perhaps even moreso, the thought of it – is difficult particularly because of it’s inevitability. And the older you get, the more you have to lose.
Of course it doesn’t help that the world is slightly falling apart at the seams. Let’s not even talk about the fact that Donald Trump is picking a fight with Iran, Australia is on fire and Ireland has found itself in the midst of a 3rd world-like A&E overcrowding emergency. Again. However – and not to take from those crises or the people effected – the world is accustomed to war and disaster and somehow, so far, it’s kept spinning. And while some people suffer, others drink coffee; while babies are being born, others are being put in the ground and for everyone whose life is falling apart, another is getting a call to tell them they’ve got that dream job they were chasing. It’s called life.
We’re half way through January now. I’m not one to stay in a rut. I realise my New Year’s was verging on maudling and I’m snapping out of it. Such is human nature after all. I’m really wishing and hoping for a good 2020 – but let’s not go there on the decade thing. I realise hopes and wishes can only stretch so far when it comes to life’s realities.