The new year is finally here!

By Jeff Yong

Image courtesy of Mohamed_hassan from Pixabay

So, the new year is finally here. With its arrival, it usually brings forth lots of hope, promises and expectations.

You’d probably have received a lot of good luck and new year wishes, often filled with blessings that you will either achieve or over-achieve your aspirations.

With the wars and aggressions in Gaza and Ukraine, and in other parts of the world that we may not even be aware of, I am drawn to the lyrics of “Happy New Year”, a lovely and poignant song by ABBA, the Swedish group that reigned supreme since the early 1970s: “Happy new year, happy new year. May we all have a vision now and then of a world where every neighbour is a friend. May we all have our hopes, our will to try. If we don’t, we might as well lay down and die. You and I.”

ABBA’s “Happy New Year” was composed in January 1980 in Barbados by the group’s highly-creative male members, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. The melody is hauntingly captivating, especially if you listened to Benny Andersson’s piano solo or the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s version. The group also released a Spanish version called “Felicidad”.

That song’s lyrics somewhat resonate with what Benjamin Franklin, an 18th century political philosopher;  who once said: “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbours, and let every new year find you a better man.”

If only we practise goodwill in our daily life, our world would certainly be a better place.

From the many messages I received this time around, I thought this aviation-slanted one was rather inventive: Announcing the departure of Flight 2024.

“All passengers are required to be at gate Dec 31 immediately. Your luggage should only contain the best souvenirs from 2023. The bad and sad moments should be left in the garbage.

“The duration of the flight will be 12 months…so, tighten your seatbelts. The next stopovers will be health, love, joy, harmony, peace and well-being.

“The captain offers you the following menu which will be served during the flight: A cocktail of friendship; a supreme of health; a gratin of prosperity; a salad of success; a cake of happiness; and toppings of laughter.

“In case of turbulence, please hang on to your seat, be calm and pray to God who always gives what is best for us. Wishing you and your family an enjoyable trip on board Flight 2024.

“Before we take off, let me thank all the good people like you who made 2023 beautiful for me. I pray that you’ll be blessed with a fruitful year ahead. Have a safe and pleasant journey.” Interesting, right?

Every time we’d wish for change for the better. This was what film director Steven Spielberg had to say: “Every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all of our lives.”  Worth pondering further as the new year rolls in.

And what has TIME’s 2023 Person of the Year Taylor Swift got to say about the new year? “This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.”

But there are many who are afraid of change. But author Dan Millman puts people at ease with this when he said: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Well said.

Sometimes it’s good to reflect that we are still around, alive and kicking, when the new year strides in and we’ve much to look for. Just like poet Criss Jami reassured us: “As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.” So, continue breathing and look forward to the new year!

The most creative message I got this time around (and author is still unknown to me) was this:

“Dear God, my prayers for 2024 are for a fat bank account and a slim body. Please don’t mix them up like you did last year! Amen.”

Happy New Year, folks!