Of all the holidays, I find New Year celebrations to be some of the least arbitrary. I know if you pull back far enough, time is a construct and we’re not really marking anything but another pass around the sun from a meaningless and actually fluctuating point in space, but at least that’s something. Not like all those other holidays, paying homage to abstract concepts like love, Ireland, or Jesus.

Plus, you have to allow for the fact that people want to have a holiday at some point, so sure, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, yeah, I’ll take it.

And this year, I’ve basically spent the last three weeks trying to think of something worth celebrating. Seriously, in a rare bit of pre-deadline column forethought, I’ve been preparing a (mental) list of things that deserve to be cherished as we tumble headfirst into 2013. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

1. Love.

2. Art.

Now, I consider “Art” a pretty broad category, extending from paintings on the wall of a museum to the dinner you’re eating afterward to the music you’re putting on for the trip home. “Art” covers a lot of ground. “Love” too, I guess.

Nonetheless, it seems like a pretty pathetic list, right? I had weeks to come up with something and the question was basically, “If we’re all going off the side of the mountain, what do you save?” That’s what I’ve got.

I’m sorry to be a downer, I really and truly am, but I find less and less to be hopeful about. Just weeks ago, there were people who argued against gun control even as families grieved for their children shot in the face. I’m less perturbed by government incompetence than some, but basically only because I think the whole thing is a show meant to sustain a centuries-old favoritism toward land-owning white males and everything else is just a distraction from that, whether it’s the fiscal cliff, a presidential election or any other trumped up nonsense. What are we supposed to hope for? Change? What, are the U.S. Senate, the NRA, Monsanto and Shell going to suddenly have a change of heart? Come on.

I still get angry a lot, but more these days, I just get sad. Neither is very productive.

But I also consider myself lucky, because of the two things on my meager little list above. I have love in my life—from my wife, my family and my little dog Dio—and I essentially spend my days in the pursuit of worshiping aesthetic. Every privilege I’ve been given in life, I feel like I’ve put it to, if not the best use, then at least the use that’s best for me. Someday soon I’d like to put a book together. Someday soon I’ll move to Massachusetts so my wife can start her new job. Someday probably soon after that we’ll have a kid like the rest of friggin’ everyone else we know. So it goes.

So it’s not that I’m unhappy, or that I lead an empty existence. Fact is, while I’m a miserable bastard on a daily basis and could point to any number of individuals who’d be willing to back me up on the assertion, on an individual level, for me, I’m not in a bad place. I could stand to lose weight, I’d like to spend more time writing, but beyond that, I’ve had it way worse.

And while I see a lot—a lot—to be bummed out about, I’m fortunate to have the other stuff to counteract it and to give me a reason to wake up in the morning and plod through the muck and get to the good parts.

That’s the stuff I think is worth celebrating. I hope you have it too.

Or, if you don’t, I hope you find it in 2013—whatever it might be that you’re looking for.

Happy New Year.

JJ Koczan

jj@theaquarian.com

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