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Year 2023 is at the train station

Thus the story comes to an end – the story of 2023; and thus we arrive at the beginning of another story – the story…

Thus the story comes to an end – the story of 2023; and thus we arrive at the beginning of another story – the story of 2024. The beginning and ending of a year, be it the Islamic (today is 17th of Jumadah al-Akhir, 1445 AH) or the Gregorian, usually occasion some sense of anxiety in men and women of intellect and understanding. Instead of being a source of infantile indulgence in celebration and perfidious revelry, such occasions should awaken in us the necessity to take stock of our failings in life; to seek reconnections with our Creator and repair what we have unwittingly destroyed in our spiritual capitals. But to the majority, occasions like this are for fun and merry making.

Suddenly, the cathedrals are filled to the brim; all of a sudden the mosques are ‘invaded’ by those who never visited them twelve months before. We work with the assumption that access to the bounties of the Almighty can be likened to the computer keyboard – ‘press and enter’. We indulge ourselves in the empty thought that we can harvest where we did not sow; that we can be enrobed with honour despite the iniquitous life that we live.

Thus, on the night of the 31st of December, these compatriots of yours and mine will go out in search of His pleasure; the pleasure of He whose Will they have abandoned for twelve months. There they go making New Year resolutions. I ‘asked’ Oscar Wilde exactly what New Year resolutions means. He says: “good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.”!

Meanwhile, I am inclined to ask another question: exactly what is new in the New Year? This question agitated my mind early this morning. I wanted to know what is new in the new month, in the new day. I wanted to feel happy, like my neighbour, to be merry, to indulge in self-love. I sought to know exactly where the train carrying the year 2023 would empty its content, its happiness, its sadness.

I wanted to know exactly how many of us witnessed its arrival during the last hours of December 2022; I crave to know how many of us are at this station, the train station of 2023, waiting to bid it bye as it departs. Yes. 2023 is departing. But to where? Where is 2023 going?

Could it be that contrary to our assumption, 2023 is nothing but a sign, a signifier the signified being the transitory nature of human life? In other words, we are actually the ones at the train station. We are the ones waiting to depart. We are the ones who have accumulated the nights and days; we are the ones who have exhausted 365 out of the days allocated to us when we began our journeys from our fathers’ loins into our mothers’ wombs before our arrival to this world. We are the ones at the train stations of life and living. We are the ones arriving even as others are departing!!!

Thus, waiting to chance upon that magical moment when 2023 would depart and yield space to 2024 is like waiting to know exactly at what moment shall we pause to exhaust one breadth before taking another one. Trying to know exactly at what moment would the year 2024 begin its own journey is like trying to know exactly at what time does the day mesh into the night. It is like trying to know exactly what colour or complexion has happiness and sadness. It is like seeking to experience the beatitude of the celestial space while we are still bogged down in the morass and in the insuperable conditions of the terrestrial.

Thus I concluded that nothing is new in the New Year except the new things and values that we add to it. The New Year is nothing, but an open book given to us by He in whose hands lie the portents of the heavens and the earth.

The New Year is nothing but the new breadth we take of life and give to life. Nothing is new in the New Year but the new visions we have of and for ourselves and our world. The New Year is neither a beginning nor an end for in the reckoning of His Majesty, the Almighty, there is no beginning nor an end. Ironically however, the New Year shall be, for some, the beginning of the end the same way the outgoing was the end for some of our compatriots.

To be alive to witness the “departure” of 2023 therefore is to be lucky and be privileged. For it is not by our choice or decision we found ourselves on this train, the train of life; it is not by our choice or decision we are changing this train in order to ride in the train of 2024; it is not going to be by our choice or decision when we shall be made to disembark from the train of life!!

What a new year that would be when cats become friends to rats; what a new year that would be when the rich stop counting their wealth by the sheer number of the poor in the neighborhood; what a new year that would be when humans begin to act like angels!

 

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