I Would Change Nothing: A New Year’s Reflection


I slept through the transition from 2013 to 2014. Because I am old and I have three kids. Also, I kind of just don’t care.

I have never been able to get excited about New Years Eve/Day. I have decided not to feel bad about that anymore. I mean, I sometimes enjoy parties and being with friends. (Actually, I sometimes enjoyed parties and being with friends; did I mention that I have three little energy-vampires flitting around my house?) But as far as the whole out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new thing went, I was always like, “Meh.”

I was always reluctant to express my apathy because I felt like I should think New Years is a big deal. Maybe people would think I was some kind of sociopath? Saying, “I don’t like New Years,” would be like saying, “I don’t like puppies.” (They’re okay.)
I’m over that now.

Puppies in a basket, via https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shar_Pei_puppies.jpg
“You monster!”

I came of age in the 90s, so not surprisingly, one of my favorite bands is Bush, and one of my favorite songs from that band is “Machine Head.” Rossdale would sing, “If I had it all again, I’d change it all,” and I would ask myself, “Would I?” Mulling over the past is one of my vices. I have a hard time not revisiting some moment of stupidity and thinking, “Man, I should never have done that!” Seriously. There are times when an embarrassing or traumatic episode from childhood will push its way into my conscious mind, and I will suddenly feel all the things I felt over twenty years ago, like that time I did a song and dance routine for the cool kids in my junior high school cafeteria, only I didn’t realize they were actually making fun of me. (Jerks!) I have to fight to push the experience and the feelings out of my head. I don’t know why that happens. It is very distracting, and it sucks.

But it has also made me realize how I would answer that question. No, Gavin Rossdale. I would not change anything.

Of course, that does not mean I do not regret the mistakes I made or the bad things that happened to me. Bad things are just bad things. There is no silver lining here. (If you think everything happens for a reason, I dare you to spout your Pollyanna nonsense to a survivor of Auschwitz.) There is just me; me in all my brokenness; me with all my scars. It’s about the butterfly effect. Change one moment, take away one scar, and I am something different. Maybe my life would be empirically better in some way, but that still does not mean it would be a life I would want. I love my wife. I love my kids. I love the friends I have made. Rejecting my past is a roundabout way of rejecting them.

I am grateful for the TARDIS (1987)
I am grateful for the TARDIS (1987)

The thing about brokenness is that it reminds us of grace – the grace we need, and the grace we must always remember to give. The scars are there. The scars are bad. Because of my cafeteria performance (and other episodes that shall not be recounted), I have a hard time knowing if people are being genuine with me today. Still, I cannot wish that had never happened. I carry my seventh grade self with me. He will always have been who I am becoming.

Which is why I am apathetic about New Years. The passage from 11:59 to midnight is supposed to be about new beginnings. “Out with the old! In with the New!” But I don’t want a new beginning. That seems like a profoundly ungrateful attitude to me. The root meaning of “grace” is “thanks” and “gift.” (You can see it in words like “gratitude” and “gratuity.”) The people my past has brought into my present are gifts. I am a gift too. What I am at this moment depends upon every moment that has gone before. It is impossible to “start over” because we can never erase what time and even trauma have made us. I guess I prefer to be thankful (or try to be thankful) for the present, which means rejecting the idea of starting fresh. I must learn to rejoice in my staleness instead.


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