Despite the initial dismissal of the cheesy suggestion to write something seasonal, about the New Year, I did spontaneously think of something brief and festive to contribute to this tradition, on my own terms. Although the older you grow and the faster time flies, the more painful this time of the year becomes, the end of the year is one of my favorite periods. I much prefer it to the beginning of the year as the inevitable yielding or surrender of the end of something is easier than the pressure-filled, stormy beginnings. For me, pressure is the divisive element between enjoyment or lack of it and that is why, I prefer fall to spring, winter to summer: the pressure to feel good is less and, as a result, a state of wellbeing occurs more naturally. On good days during these seasons, often deemed as “melancholic” or “sad,” I feel intensely happy because it comes as a little bit of a surprise; it is slightly counterintuitive. Also, I feel fine even if I am sad because my mood, in this case, corresponds to the appearance and sensation of the weather and landscape. During the summer, sadness mixes with anxiety as a result of the complete mismatch between the brightness of the sun and green of the sea outside and the grey of the gloomy interior.
Despite this introduction, I have to admit that I feel increasingly less for the “end” of a period, which, increasingly more, seems to be an arbitrary border established by us in order to limit our boundless natures and desires. But, by using these segmentations, we believe them. Thus, as the determined end of something, such a period inspires sentimentality which, in turn, causes people to focus less on the daily details eating up much of our time during the year and more on the internal life, which goes largely ignored because more seemingly imminent and easily fulfilled needs take priority. This newly shifted focus emerges in the organization of meetings/dates with people we consider important from an emotional point of view rather than practical. Yes, indeed, during this puzzling time, people feel the burning desire to cater to their emotions, so severely mistreated on our daily race to be as practical and efficient as possible. Practical during the year, sentimental during its end! Sounds familiar…But, while this inclination is a consolidated part of us, we should, at least, be clear, about something: relationships with people cannot be fixed so easily and symbolic gestures help but do not replace the hard work, energy, but also pleasure, required to maintain one whether familial, friendship, friendship-romantic, or a romantic one. It happened on several instances that people whom I had not seen and some, almost forgotten during the simultaneously long and very short year, expressed the desire to meet, to see each other, supposedly to pay homage to a closeness experienced during a certain period. And, although these symbols serve the role of offering a moment of warmth, they do not suffice in replacing the absence of real closeness during the year.
The significant people in my life are those to whom I’ve dedicated real time, energy, feeling, and thought during the year. Whether I pay my gratitude to them during this brief festive season, matters very little. But, the “rationing” of love during the year and the “excess” of it during the end of the year reminds me of an episode which embarrasses me a little bit when I think of it. During a holiday in Corfu, after a day at the beach, we completed our touristic experience with a traditional Greek restaurant with live music. A nice-looking lady sang Greek songs which can sound annoying or moving depending on the atmosphere and, in this case, they were both. While I felt and looked well, I was, as usual, half-involved in the conversation at the table. Everyone was dressed up for dinner, which, ultimately, was just a regular ritual shifted to another, more exotic place, and, hence, slightly more exciting. We all clapped along to the music, yet neither one of us was dancing. All of a sudden, a group of people either in wheelchairs or with walking sticks, moved to the middle of the restaurant and starting dancing, with their heads, shoulders, arms, with whatever they could. Almost in tears at the emotion triggered by this music, this group did not stop dancing until the end. The scene seems to belong in a lame movie which attempts to convey an uplifting message but, no, this really happened. And, while trying to maintain a cool demeanor, trying not to let myself fall in this sentimental trap, I almost broke down a few times but understood that this would be an entirely selfish and pointless reaction and stopped myself. But, sad as these physically-damaged people made me, I felt even sadder and surprised about us, the seemingly whole ones: beautiful and healthy but boring and lethargic like pieces of meat. Did we need to lose something – our sense of smell, sight, hearing, taste – in order to appreciate and use all of them?! Lower the chances by one degree, desire increases by ten! But, perhaps, if we are smart, we can just imagine the loss, without actually having to experience it , and act as if it is always really close to us, as it actually is.
by Kleitia Vaso