The Thing about Hope

new year

Don’t you just love the smell of hope at the beginning of a new year?

Of course it’s already not as strong as it was last week, but who needs these negative vibes when we’ve all decided that 2017 will be about love and light and positive vibes only? We’re all about making ourselves better (even though we know that change is a gradual thing, and we will probably remain the same in very many ways for the better part, if not all, of the year), avoiding negativity (even though we know that life cannot be all good, humans cannot be all good, and we are most definitely not going to remain calm and sweet, soaked in an aura of serenity and love, when a matatu guy is trying to grab us by the arm and practically shove us into that his falling-apart contraption, which, by the way, is already full), and spreading good energy to all those around us (even though we know that some people can only be loved by the Lord, and those people we declared we were leaving in 2016— yes, those ones about whom we say ‘damu yangu na yake haiingiani’,  or ‘aki huyo roho ilimkataa tu’ ,those very ones—have also crossed over into 2017).

Just like at the beginning of last year, and the year before that, we are convinced that 2017 is definitely our year. This is the year that you shift to a healthier lifestyle, for good this time. This is the year you keep your commitment to work out thrice a week and have half of your plate covered in green leafy vegetables. This is the year you begin to rise with the sun like a person created for a purpose, full of energy and just raring to go out there and change the world, instead of groggily rolling out of bed at 1:30 pm and finding that there is no breakfast left, and since everybody left already to go build the nation, there is also no lunch, and so you have to contemplate whether to take strong tea and last night’s leftover rice or go through all the effort of walking to the kiosk in the afternoon sun to get milk and bread to make your own breakfast like an adult. This is the year you decide that watching YouTube videos for six hours straight is not a suitable thing to put on your CV, and that you will finally learn that language or learn to play that instrument or take that short course that (you realize now) you really should have taken during those lazy eight months after Form Four. And this, this is the semester that you will attend all classes and complete all assignments with excellence and on time because you would have started working on them when they were given and not the night before the due date. This is our year, we are sure. The last eight years have been false starts, but this, my friend… this is it.

That’s the thing about hope: it never dies.

New Year resolutions are unreliable. They are like the decisions we make in anger or extreme happiness. Like when your boyfriend pisses you off and you swear you will never trust him again but the next day he offers to take you to Urban Gourmet and suddenly, ‘Anger? What is anger? I trust this man with my life!’ (Ahem…not at all based on a true story). You can’t fully evaluate whether you mean it or not because you make them while riding on a high. In this case, the high is provided by hope, the idea of a clean slate, a fresh start, a chance to become the ideal you. And the thing is, we know. We know that the space in between 11:59 pm on 31st December and 12:01 am on 1st January isn’t enough to transform us into different versions of ourselves, even though it worked well enough for Cinderella. We know that the constructive habits we want to develop, (like calling our parents just to see how they are doing), and the destructive ones we want to break off of, (like calling our parents only when we need money) will take much more effort than we have been able to put in in the past.  We know that pizza tastes way better than a salad, and that sometimes going to class at 8 in the morning is the last thing we want to do.

But we can’t run away from it- the desire to realize greater, better versions of ourselves. My mother, for one, would be very grateful for a Michelle 2.0, a version of me that loooves to do house chores, doesn’t ask for money, and is going to graduate summa cum laude, having attained a spectacular cumulative GPA of 4.0. To this I say, some dreams are more valid than others. The point is, we can’t fight the urge to make resolutions when we have another chance to fix ourselves. Even those of us who claim not to make them do make them, they just don’t say them out loud or announce them to all of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Because we recognize all that is wrong with us, real or imagined, and we want better.

I do have resolutions this year. They are few because disappointment doesn’t exactly feel like a hug. But I am not above enthusiastically jumping onto a bandwagon that I know I will fall off before I adjust to writing the date as 2017 and not 2016. One of them is to pay more attention to this blog, and another, which I have carried over consistently every New Year since 2010, is to drink more water. Seriously, are there actually people who drink 12 glasses of water everyday? And how often do they have to go to the washroom? And of course the lifestyle changes. If your new year resolutions do not include working out and eating healthy, are they even new year resolutions?

Altschmerz: Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had; the same boring flaws and anxieties that you’ve been gnawing on for years.

This is my fascination with new year resolutions: they show that we haven’t given up on ourselves. This is a beautiful thing, you know. Trying again and again to break free of our old selves and have a better year than the last. Every year without fail.  No matter how easily we let go of them last year. No matter ridiculous or drastic or inconsequential it sounds. It’s a beautiful thing. And who knows, maybe this year is actually going to be our year. For real this time.



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