Peace. We heard that word a lot over the recent holiday season. Prayers for it, wishes for it, regret at how little of it seems to abide. Heavenly peace, peace on earth, the prince of peace, peace to all men, peace was on everybody's lips.
Isn't it ironic that the new year always begins so peacelessly?
That goes double for our otherwise genteel neighbourhood. A mere 5 doors away from us, we find the Europaplatz; a noble public space which the city government, for one night of the year, surrenders to hammered arsonists with explosives. They're so drunk, most of them can't even find the place, and begin to blow shit up anywhere handy. This was the view from our front window at one minute past twelve.
That jars with my customary New Year's resolution. From the previous sentence, you might conclude that I make the same, unsuccessful resolution every year. You'd be right.
My new year's resolution would appear to fit the definition of insanity often attributed to Einstein: it's crazy to do the same thing year in, year out, when the only result so far has been failure.
Personally, I prefer a different definition of insanity: Giving fireworks to drunks.
My usual New Year's resolution aims for an oft-misunderstood state of mind; that is, mindfulness. To be present in the moment, to abandon that which angers, to be thoughtful in word and deed. To mutter, when needed, Reinhold Niebuhr's famous Serenity Prayer, minus the first word.
In 2012, I made a binding promise, in public, to be mindful. Like, with a meme on a website, and everything. It lasted eight days.
This year felt different.
An afternoon walk on New Year's day, as always, revealed a the detritus of the night before. But the sun, low in the sky, cast a light that made the trash, abandoned atop some recent snow, seem almost poignant.
Buildings and trees schemed which pals to tag for the Ice-Bucket Challenge.
The usually sombre St. George's Church felt quite perky. Under fresh snow, even their graveyard shines with optimism.
By the time I reached the Maximiliananslagen, our local park, I was primed for a good mood. Mind you, the park lifts your mood no matter what. Its visitors have mastered the very skill I lacked; an unselfconscious ability to hang out, and enjoy simple pleasures. Especially on the sledding hill.
It was then, I stumbled on an impromptu lesson in being present in the moment. Three hung-over-looking men decided that the best thing to do this fine day, was grab a few shopping bags, and in an ass-chilling fit of madness, go for a slide.
I shall use these men—clearly too old to find joy in anything so childish as losing control of the direction in which their butts are travelling—as my example for 2015.
This year, the resolution might stick, mildly. I'll keep you posted.