Does the person waking up on January 1st differ from the one who went to sleep on December 31st? Beyond maybe being a bit worse for wear, the answer is no. Nonetheless, something about that midnight changing of the guards carries a unique opportunity for self-renewal, the space to moult our exoskeletons and unload yesterday’s impedimenta.
This is a universal phenomenon: it’s hard to find a single culture, past or present, that didn’t practice some form of ritual renewal or purification. For example, along the east coast of the United States, American Indian tribes like the Creek, Cherokee, Seminole, Yuchi, and Iroquois marked the annual Green Corn Festival with elaborate dances and special councils to discuss the previous year’s problems, pardon transgressors for crimes big and small, and bestow names upon babies born the previous year. In Thailand, on the eve of the three-day Songkran festival celebrating the Thai new year, families purge their homes of unwanted clutter, burning the castoffs and cleansing buddha statues with petal-infused water. And in a more familiar instance of this impulse, gym memberships always spike in the month of January.
From Iriquois longhouses to Bangkok apartments to midtown Equinox’s, individuals, families, communities, and cultures have always sought ways to satisfy their innate need for renewal. But what happens when the ritual fires die down, buddhas begin to gather dust, and treadmills remain untrodden thanks to late nights in the office, or at the bar? What happens when the resolutions retreat?
There’s no reason to wait for a new year to start anew. We can cultivate change every moment of every day. We believe taking quality time to enjoy quality culture—exhibits, films, books, records—can be a form of ritual in itself, lifting us above the tumult of everyday life and clarifying our perspective on who we are, where we are, and where we’re going.
Miscellaneous is Athletics’ no-frills round-up of the cultural items that inspire our team each month, lovingly prepared for the enjoyment of our community. Please enjoy, and remember: January 1st is just another day.
Stay tuned for more editions of Miscellaneous in the coming months.
Interested in contributing? Send us an email!