KUNAL TEJ BIR LAMA
This may be the umpteenth plus one time you have read something about new year resolutions, just this year. But we all know how difficult it is to be resolved enough to do what we gotta do. Giving up vices, inculcating virtues, getting things done for number one. So much so that we are equally habituated to making fun of what's not done, even before the year gets underway.
But what say the ghosts of years past? How often do we actually stop to consider, at the turning of the year, not just which of the start-of-year resolutions we succeeded or failed at, but just what we have accomplished for ourselves? How has work, love, and life been? We're not simply looking at trajectories to the top and bottom lines, a perverse log applied to your own frame. Was it a good year? All said and done, do you feel better?
The novelist EM Forster was known to keep written account of what he had achieved at the end of the year past. It may be ironic that his diaries reveal how his homosexuality prevented him from writing (about middle-class themes) from 1924 to his death in 1970. But the principle stands. Who accounts for you?
Oftentimes it seems looking back is a luxury only the very old have, because (we think) they have so little to look forward to in comparison, and in any case they have not very much to be doing. If you think about it, reminiscing of what was and what might have been is indeed a luxury. But if one life is all you get (or at any rate all you remember), why not review it from time to time? It's something we can do collectively, too, and not just to lament where we have stumbled.
If this all sounds a bit vague, here's how I do it. Over the years, I've identified the most important things to my life, in no particular order: Work, Art, Love, and (latterly), Health and Moolah. At the end of a year, or a particular phase of life, I'm wont to reflect on where I stand vis-à-vis these markers. Do I fall asleep at work on a regular basis? Does my writing send certain Nepali writers to sleep? Are my Facebook friends more than profiles? Can I gear my cycle up the Hattiban ko ukalo and still look cool doing it? Have I stopped allowing Amrika-return friends to pay the bills for a night out?
Keeping these markers in some sort of a balance, or at least being aware of where I'm at with what's most important to me, makes me feel I'm in some kind of control, even when things don't quite pan out the way I want them to. They often don't, of course, but knowing what's off kilter helps.
Of course, everyone has their own design for life, to be gauged by indicators perhaps more concrete. And the busy, bustling new breed of Nepalis, living under a neon-lighted, billboarded vision of Naya Nepal (new road really is that now, see above), is in danger of even forgetting to live in the present, let alone the past. Beware the furious present. The Welsh poet William Henry Davies put it best when he penned this ode to the joys of simple contemplation:
A poor life this if, full of care,we have no time to stand and stare.
When was the last time you looked for 'streams full of stars, like skies at night'?