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Hocus Pocus: The Strange (But Real) Magic of New Years

Lucky for you, I’m not writing another article suggesting that you do something drastic like quit your job and travel to Bali or take up painting and ukulele lessons even though you’re more of a math and science buff just because it’s a new year. Instead, I want reflect on the magic of the holiday all about change and those damned resolutions.


Pause for a minute and think about how fresh you feel (or at least how everyone tells us we should feel) after the clock strikes 12:00am and especially when people ask you about your resolutions. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really feel like drinking champagne or kissing someone when winter turns to spring and spring to summer and so on and so forth. Well…maybe I do a little but not nearly as much as I want to when I see that there’s a new year on the screen of my iPhone. So why is that? What is it about a new year that makes us feel like we can make notable changes that we wouldn’t have necessarily considered on days between January 2nd and December 31st?

For one, I feel that the literal change in date, strangely enough, invigorates enough motivation within us to work our way down our extended to-do list. You know, gravity and all that. Clearly, I’m just plain baffled but I definitely feel it (and hopefully so do you), so just go with it. My best guess is that New Year’s Day just gives us a blank slate to work with. Like a sinner moving from purgatory to heaven, we forget, or at least try to forget, mistakes of the past and vow to become better people. But why don’t we feel like this on August 19th or May 11th? What is so special about January 1st that we convince ourselves that we’re going to take up yoga, or change our major, or cut back on indulgences and have 2 Oreos instead of the entire sleeve, although we all know that they’re really addicting?

Perhaps we can point to our instinctive desire to be better humans. Who wouldn’t want to start a club or become a Plex-fiend? So, we vow to make monumental changes that we follow through with until the newness of the year fades, or at least until February, resorting, once again, to procrastination. If you read that and you hate how cynical I just sounded, I suppose I’m not talking about you but I’m sure most of us can agree that this is exactly what happens. Hopefully you’re also just as confused as I am as to why we aren’t as keen on doing these things at any other point during the year.

If I’m totally wrong and you aren’t in limbo over this imagined (but totally real) New Year’s magic thing, I can’t give you refund on all the time you spent reading this article, but I’ll leave you with some of the annoying things I promised I wouldn’t tell you at the beginning of this article: do the things that make sense and make you happy in 2014. Try to keep the promises you make to yourself because you can make changes, small and big, ANY day you damn well please. Although, I must add that if what makes you happy doesn’t make any sense, then please do quit your job and go to Bali.

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