By Morak Babajide-Alabi

Let me welcome you all to 2019. It is six days into the year already, but it is never too late to exchange greetings on the crossover. 2018 was a very eventful year for us all, as individuals, as a nation and on the world scene. Let us thus congratulate ourselves for making it to 2019.

In a retrospect view of the year 2018, I have “touched up” a piece published in this column on the last day of 2017.  It is relevant to the time of the year we are in now.

The first day of the year is always a remarkable one. This is not because it is different from other days of the year. Of course, It is not. Apart from the merriment and felicitations, it is like any other day. It breaks like every other day, the sun rises normal and the moon shines the same way it does on any other day. And we retire to bed like any other day.

In spite of this, there is still something different about the first few days of January. We celebrate because it is a new day. It is a new dawn, a new beginning, with loads of possibilities and opportunities. Our approach is positive because we have conditioned our minds that we are starting afresh and old things have passed away.

For unexplainable reasons, the days hold hope for us – the hopes of better things to come and the belief that things will change for the better. For the unemployed, for example, the hope of getting a job is high. It does not matter if this runs against logic that few companies or employers conduct mass recruitment in January.

To some, the new year is a mere change of calendar dates. But we have to accept that when some events happen in the spiritual realm in the first few days they could make or mar the whole year. This explains why many of us are usually “good” at the start of the year.

It was a full circle last week Monday. 365 days were gone – just like that. The preparations for January 1, 2019, started in our consciousness many days before December 31, 2018. Yet it was on this night many of us, for the first time in 2018, headed to church and other places of worship. We must welcome the new year. It did not matter the state we were, as the long hand of the clock crawled towards midnight, we picked the signal to dust our religious shoes and join others in ushering in 2019.

No other days of 2018 were churches or other worship centres as busy as new year’s eve. The doors were flung open for us to come in and pray off our “bad” deeds so we can move into 2019 with a clean slate. On the day, and for once, we were forgiven for coming into the church slightly drunk and tipsy. All we wanted was to be close to God. And in doing this we needed to shout Happy New Year 2019, where our maker could hear us better – a place of worship.

Some of us headed back to the beer “joints” and pubs to “celebrate” and top up our alcohol level. The few sober ones headed home to reflect on 2018 and set resolutions for 2019. It was an opportunity for them to think over the mistakes of the year gone by and make notes on how to avoid them in 2019. To them, it was the time to put aside all the hurts, failures, and disappointments of 2018. It is not unusual for individuals to offer olive branches to their “supposed” enemies so as to start the year nicely.

This is the time of the year when strategies get laid out for the incoming year. It works in two ways – if you “got it” right in 2018, you put strategies in place on how to work better on what you did. If on the other hand, you did not hit the target, the first week of January serves as the foundation to right the wrongs.

At the start of a year, we make resolutions. You are right if you say they are made to be broken, yet for many people, it is an annual ritual. We make resolutions of how we want to make amends, pursue new dreams and achieve goals in the new year. This is usually the essence of a new year.

Some people, even when the thought did not cross their minds, are prompted by others around them. I remember years ago when my father would ask me what my resolutions for the year were. These questions soon became routine. I knew what he wanted, so through my teenage years, the answers were same as – to be a more responsible boy, wash the cars and help around the house. Or say something as vague as “I will study more this year.” Every time I said this, his face lit up with the expectation of a better performance from me for the year.

Making these resolutions soon became a tradition for me. On reflection now, my heart was never in the resolutions. Despite the fact that I wrote them down in my diaries, there was never the willpower or the grace to carry through. It was thus okay to go against them, only to be reminded when they were broken. It was very easy because there was no commitment.

As I became older, my understanding of resolutions changed. I realised that there is a difference between resolutions and setting realistic goals. When the realisation came, I discovered I had been on fruitless journeys for many years, which prompted me to radically alter my view of resolutions. I have stopped making resolutions, and I have changed my perception of them.

It is good to make New Year’s resolutions. But ask some people what their resolutions are; you hear them say “I am eating less this year,” or “I will drink more water this year”. The most ridiculous you hear is the resolve to drop a few pounds, weight wise, especially coming off a festive period when we overindulged ourselves. Then you wonder if resolutions do not make kids out of us all.

Have you made your resolutions for 2019? Did you include becoming a better person as one? If yes, I am sorry to say that you will never ever achieve this. You ask me why? You will soon know that it takes more than resolutions to turn someone around. There are many other things you will have to work on to become a good man or woman. Above all, you will need the help of God for the turnaround.

ADDENDUM

The first few days of the new year is always slow business for pub owners and cigarette manufacturers. Now, a lot of alcoholics and smokers “deceive” themselves by making resolutions to “forsake” their habits.

It is not long before the resolutions are smashed and they “crawl” their ways back to the old habits. The rate at which they “rush” back would make you wonder if they were forced in the first instance. We’ve all been there at one time or the other before.

I know some do turn it around for good, but to be honest, the percentage is low.

Published in the Diaspora Matters, Sunday Vanguard, January 6, 2019.