New Year, Schnew Yarrr.

New Years, Christmases, birthdays- all these celebrations usually call for a cup of nostalgia and a spoon of melancholy, or else a flaming plate of excitement- but these past few days have been anything but so. Relatively phlegmatic, tranquil, and utterly devoid of lugubrious mournings of lost time.

I think I’ve come to accept that time goes at its whim. A boy of two soon will be twenty, a man of eighteen soon will be eighty-one. Measurable time is but a hindrance- commanding you to adhere to some sort of ritualistic lifestyle; condemning you to a lifetime dedicated to marking it- celebrating time and mourning time- what a decidedly waste of time! A new year comes every year, a new day comes every day. Aphoristic observations. So prominently obvious but so rarely observed. A new year only marks the passing of 365 (or 364) earthly rotations- the completion of one large track around the Sun. It is no achievement or cause for celebration on our part- it is the Earth that deserves to be commended. The circular ball of rich blues and luscious greens nearly palpitates with life- its heart of molten rock beats frantically, assuredly- like a man running- running from life, running for life. It runs the track it has for centuries, millennium- without pause, without respite. In the however brief (or however toiled) duration of what we term a year, it covers nearly 600 million miles; and that is its great feat. New year is no significant date for the Earth- it does not pause to celebrate; it goes on.

Why do we, we humans that live off the Earth without gratitude, without repayment- why do we have to celebrate? Mother Earth hardly offers an effusive welcome; we are symbols of destruction and disruption to the natural way of life just as we see ourselves as wonderful creatures of knowledge and power. At any rate, January 1st could just as easily be June 20th- does it matter which day we celebrate it on? Why do we celebrate Christmas, birthdays, and the numerous public holidays that we so readily shower on ourselves? Because we need a reason to take a break. To pop that bottle of champagne (one of the reasons I love a good holiday). Or to remember something, whether it’s our birthday, Jesus’ birthday (in the case of Christians), or Thanksgiving.

It’s a reminder.

Coming back to a full circle- what does the new year remind us of? New beginnings. New chances, new aspirations, new blank parchments to fill.

Usually I’m eager to rack my brain for new year’s resolutions but right now I feel nothing but a mildly surprising indifference. What’s the point of making a resolution? Another self-imposed criteria to fulfill that brings little satisfaction when done and much guilt when not.

But often the new year does act as a sort of trigger, signifying that the time is probably right to start getting my act together for a whole new year of school. And that’s why I decided to pick up that hefty SAT book and do my first ever practice test and I got a score of 2230! Not bad considering I scored myself a 9/12 on the essay which was on the stricter side. And I hadn’t even bothered to look through the study guide- looks like the SAT shouldn’t be much of a problem! I’m not sure whether I was relieved or worried- after all it would’ve been crazy to expect myself to get 2400 without even looking at anything beforehand; but getting a perfect score is an incredibly tricky little thing that allows little room for mistakes. Kind of reminds me of the IGCSEs and fills me with a particular dread; I know I didn’t do well on my Additional Maths. Ironic since I didn’t fall short of 100% on any test in grade 10, and yet I slipped up badly on the one that really counts. I don’t even know whether I have my A* anymore.

Fear.

That unreasonable fear that penetrates the firm walls of the mind.

At any rate it shouldn’t matter; but it does. Such trivial exams, such drastic repercussions. Friends, family, teachers. I tell myself it doesn’t matter what they think, only that it matters that I did my best. But I didn’t do my best. I was careless.

You see, this was what I was trying to hide from myself. This kind of mournful, guilt-ridden, fear-encased reflection that is inevitable when the new year comes rolling around. Those five-hundred words denouncing the importance of the new year- all to hide myself from my own shortcomings and disappointment.

I need to lower my expectations of myself.

But how- that is the question?

Over his [or in my case, her] own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

Unutterable mutterings.

Psychedelic flecks fluttering in the woods
Browning and deviating with moods
Hands outstretched to capture the fleeting masses
But wind batters and defiantly surpasses

Me: “What can one do but be subject to the prejudices of their own mind?”

Inner me: “One can try.”

Me: “But there is no try, there is only do.”

Inner me: “Then do.”

On a lighter note, I did enjoy the new year- had a wonderful meal at Tung Lok Classics- Peking Duck at Turf City. They have the most juicy and succulent duck meat with a delightfully crispy, glossy skin. The Peking Duck here has stayed as true as can be to its counterparts in its Motherland- a inimitable bronze sheen covered in oozing fatty juices, and unmistakably crackling skin. We ordered two whole ducks- so when the order came we were flanked by two carving chefs on both sides, each with a gleaming, plump duck in one hand and a somewhat daunting blade in the other. Sometimes a little authentic Chinese can do one some good.

Also, they had a rather innovative way of keeping the wraps moist.

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Heavenly juices of salty fats and tingly sugars melt and disintegrate in a bite of this delightful duck.

I watched Les Miserables yesterday too, which was a touching 3 hour film that had little words but almost entirely filled with song. A good movie means a great lunch had to be in order, in which case we went to have our fill of juicy black truffle 小笼包. At times like these I start missing Shanghai.

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Take a little poke at the perfectly tenuous skin and release a burst of sumptuous juice with just a hint of truffle.

Perfection at its finest.

This, is what I call a new year.

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