Sameen R. Chaudhary, London
Time, and marks of time such as the New Year give us milestones and posts for us to measure our time on earth. With such guideposts, we can see how much progress we have made, and how much we have lost over the past year. There is criticism that the New Year as a modern tradition has been commercialised and spiralled out of control. Perhaps the ways and methods we now use to mark this time has changed, but the marking of it itself is and always has been an important part of human development. Not least because it is the time for reflection and for many resolving to do better, achieve more, and reach our own goals in the coming year. But also as a collective mark, a mark of time that we all share and we live together. We, all of us, may live vastly different days to each other. From the moment we wake up, to when we rest our head at night, no two people in the world will have lived the exact same day. The one common thing between us is the waxing and waning, and the rising and setting of the celestial bodies. Time, days, months and years are what we all share at any given moment. What we do with it is what sets us apart.
As time marches on some progress is made, some set back occur. Some opportunities lost are lost forever. That is the harsh reality of time, life and death. When it has gone there is no bringing it back. But there is a silver lining, and that is that some mistakes can be learnt from, avoided in the future, perhaps even made better. God gives us some opportunities again, and this time we may act differently. That is just one aspect of the merciful nature of our God, that He allows His creation to go through the same patterns and seasons so that we can take the opportunity to do better the next time. Perhaps that is one of the underlying points of New Year resolutions, to resolve to make better use of our time, and to take those opportunities that we missed in the last year.
I have always found New Year resolutions difficult to keep. The whole idea of making myself new is nice for the first few days. Invigorating and exciting even. A new start, the possibilities are endless. But after the initial few days, perhaps even a month, as the winter drags on it becomes increasingly difficult to hold on to that motivation. It’s not only me I have been told. It’s called the January Blues. Why so Blue if it is all new? Perhaps I have resolved to change or do too much in the coming year, as my quest to create a ‘New Me’ fizzles out. That is a tall order, especially when I am in the same body, same place and same routine. Perhaps it is because New Me has pushed aside certain things rather than acknowledging them as the first step for change /improvement. Change does not come overnight, it is a continual gradual process that needs constant work and attention. Change is something that happens over the years. At the end, we stop, think, take stock of our progress and put in place goals for the future. Rather than starting again this year, I have heeded the advice of beloved Huzoor, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, and asked myself a series of soul searching questions. Questions to do with the Old Me of this year gone by. Only by taking a deep look at it, can I think about what needs to change, and to what degree. That way I can accept the Old Me and look to improve, bringing about small changes step by step. Of course this may not work for everybody, and those that can start afresh as the clock strikes midnight on the 1st January, good for them. But our Old Me’s have gone through a lifetime of experience and learnt many lessons, all of which can help rather than hinder progress.
Resolutions have, and perhaps always will be a feature of the New Year. There is nothing wrong with resolving to improve oneself, whatever that may look like for the individual. But perhaps this year, when I know that I will have to ask myself again those questions at the end, I will be more inclined (hopefully!) to stay on track and make more progress. A New Me means that I can forget the past and start over. In that case there is no need for me to change much. My intention may be good, but it lacks the drive to make sure that I carry it on throughout the year. And I may end up repeating the same cycle over and over. So next year, I am looking forward to an improved Old Me, however small that improvement may be. InshaAllah.