Do something. Don’t know exactly what. But to start, I’ll try relaxing on the island of Mallorca. At least for a few days. Then only God and tarot card readers will know what’s in store. What I won’t do is make resolutions. Those are for any day, at any time. I don’t think that many New Year’s resolutions work. If so, they wouldn’t be saved for a special day. If a resolution is important enough, it gets started immediately. No special day necessary.
I remember one year on New Year’s Eve I thoughtfully put together a list of resolutions that I promised myself for the new year. I think they were promptly discarded within a week. Obviously, I wasn’t doing something right or they weren’t important enough. But I’m sure there is value in thinking about things you’d like to change rather than not thinking about them.
New Years represents a cycle start. For most it’s more important than our birthdays. Which is why we like to wish everyone we see “Happy New Year,” even if it’s days prior or days after. It’s like a special “have a nice day.” It’s a wish for a happy start to a new cycle. What was it that Einstein said about our desires to be happy?
Regardless, it’s a good time for a break. Or in this case, a continued brake. Last year I was in Colombia and celebrated at a friend’s home-party partaking in their customary celebrations of consuming all kinds of meats Dec 31st evening, and then eating 12 grapes at midnight and pulling travel bags around the block. (I could not eat any of the meat as I could barely swallow the grapes, and I didn’t join the walking of travel luggage). Many of the middle-class in Lima, Peru do the same thing at midnight. When the clocks strike 12 on NY eve, they run around the block pulling their luggage in hopes that the new year will bring lots of travel. Then, it’s a full feast with stuffed turkey and lots of other dishes — similar to our Thanksgiving holiday meal — at midnight.
We like to celebrate and NY eve is a good excuse. When I lived in San Francisco I went one year with a friend to Union Square area to one of our favorite restaurant/bars. The streets got so crowded and rowdy at midnight, it was like amateur night. There were enough people who didn’t know how to act that made it not pleasant. I think the next few years I spent at home going to bed prior to midnight, wanting nothing to do with NY Eve.
Since then however, I’ve been fortunate to have been in a few places for the change of the year. (I’m not recounting any of this for any other reason than to capture bits of tid). After one year on the beach in Brazil and another in Lima, Peru, there was the year I drove from Oporto to Lisbon NY eve only to be held up at knife point as I was searching for an ideal celebratory spot. The knife above my head on the steps of a not-well-traveled pathway made for an exciting evening 15 minutes before another year. Luckily, I escaped unscathed and made it to the safety of a local Portuguese cafe for the strike of midnight (and a toast to good health).
The next NY Eve was spent with a full moon, feet dangling in the Arabian Sea, on the other side of that water body from Iran. That may have been the year I experimented with failed resolutions.
And a couple of years later I hauled GV to Natal, the north coast of Brazil for Christmas/New Year week (natal is the portuguese word for christmas but also a beautiful beach city with deep blue clear water and non-stop perfectly chunky body surfing waves). After a week of trading long stints during the day of body surfing and reading novels in the sand under shady palm trees, a wild hair prompted me to head to Rio for the 31st. So the 31st evening of 1999 we were suddenly on a completely empty 737 (except for obligatory airline crew). After leaving an equally empty airport the last couple of hours of the century, we wormed our way to the beach through throngs of people for an impressive turn of millennium celebration. The Brazilians know how to celebrate. They flood to the beach normally for new years eve but the millennium change had the city bursting at the seams. The immense trash piles of beer and champagne bottles every 15 yards along the beach the next morning and the stale alcohol odor mixed with the salty ocean breeze was an equally impressive experience.
The next year was marching downtown Singapore watching the celebrations on large building-size flat panel screens between distant fireworks. And this wasn’t planned, but the very next year NY eve was at Times Square watching the ball drop for the first time that was not on a screen. One of the years in the middle of the first decade of this century we celebrated ny eve either in Florence or Venice, can’t remember which. Not that I don’t remember which city is which, but I know I wasn’t on a gondola or in a canal, so maybe it was Florence or somewhere in between.
The last several have been tranquil, low-key, quiet, quasi-celebrations. This year, the question was, Freddie, you want to go out somewhere in Mallorca and celebrate or have a feast at home (with related family). The answer was easy — home wins out. So a big meal it was at midnight (ugh) while watching the countdown at La Puerta del Sol in Madrid on TV.
The last time I was in the Balearic Islands was 30 years ago in the summer when I arrived on an overnight boat from Barcelona to Minorca. I rented a small motorbike and stayed for a week. It was my first time (and last) learning windsurfing. I took off out of a crowded cove and the wind gradually kicked up to a force. As it was blowing me out to sea I gained distance quickly so that the people in the cove were small dots. I couldn’t get it together to get back against the extremely stiff wind and needed to be rescued. Not a big deal, but the guy who rented me the board and sail was interested in getting his stuff back and had to come and get me.
Still, I’m not in Mallorca because Michael Douglas has a home here and lives here part of the year. Even though we both had the same cancer, at the same place, the same stage, both misdiagnosed, and going through treatment at about the same time, doesn’t mean that we have anything else in common. It remains to be seen, but he may have been smarter not to have had the extra post rad stuff that I had done which is proving to be such a challenge.
And on the subject of smart, it may have been smarter to have been here in the middle of summer as it’s cold enough to need a few layers against the coolness of the winter Mediterranean air. But perspective is always a good thing to have changed up.
So if I said in the last post that wishing merriment at christmas meant nothing, I really meant that it does mean something. It’s a positive pitch saying ‘hope you are merry (even though I can never know if you will be or not, and it makes me feel better for pitching the wish).’ The same is kinda true for the Happy New Year wish.
It’s nice celebrating events with fellow humans. But, it’s just another day really. This one just has fireworks thrown in at midnight while everyone nearby hugs and cheers that we get to write or show a different year in document date fields.
Just be happy — if you wish. It’s a new year. And a new calendar. And that doesn’t happen every day.