1st of January, the first day of the year 2015, and the day after we bid farewell to 2014.
When the year ends, the gate to the year that is about to pass into the void of time is closed and the gate to the next year opens up before us. Even though we can always look through the rails to cast a glance at the years that are behind us, there is nothing that we can do to change the decisions that led to our actions in the years that is now behind us.
Some believe in destiny, that we are meant to take one path rather than another because the universe intended us to do so. The ideology is appealing because it is romantic and gives meaning to our lives. It is no surprise that destiny is a source of great writing for many writers.
To me, destiny is more than anything the consequence of a decision. One decision leads to another, and often these decisions are defined by an event. This event is usually one that touches us deeply and affects the next big decision we make in life.
After I began reading Kate Atkinson's new novel, Life after Life, I found myself deeply contemplating the many paths that are before each one of us as we live our lives.
Often, we base our decisions on events we plan for in the future, events such as studying a certain subject on a university level, traveling, moving somewhere new or old, getting married or having children or pets. We are thinking about an empty slot in time, a slot for which we have build a skeleton to the story of our lives.
Kate Atkinson in Life After Life raises many questions about life and why it is that our life is the way it is, and how our decisions affect the world in which we live. It took me a long time to finish the book because a part of me did not want to finish it. It seemed impossible for there to be an answer to this riddle of life and I liked the riddle to remain unresolved.
I always found myself thinking about my latest reading session for days afterwards. While most days I couldn't wait to make time to keep reading, there were others I needed a few days to mend my broken heart after a sorrowful chapter. I finally finished the book the day before New Years Eve, and to the questions that had an answer - an answer as absolute as it can be seeing how vague and open to interpretation the questions her story raised in my own mind - I found the answer for which I looked.
An answer to one of my questions is that the great often die young because to achieve greatness great sacrifices must be made.
The answer to another is that we have choice. As much as we rely on plans for the future, we must too rely on our feelings and intuition and let life happen rather than organizing it far in advance.
The answer to the question of how violence affects lives and whether one act of violence is likely to lead to another is one that I still wonder about. Are we doomed to a life of violence because one person inflicted violence upon us, or is it a circle that we can escape? Does it depend on the state of mind, or the support we receive, or the lack thereof, that we overcome the experience? Do we bury it on the inside or speak out against the person who violated us?
And how does the world around us affect our personal relationship? Can the mood in society be so dominating and all-empowering that the people we love change and become someone else? Someone who perhaps does everything in his or her power to control our lives and condemn us to death without knowing so themselves? When does the assumption of doing the right thing become a selfish act?
To neither one of these questions do I have an answer. They are so tightly bound to the individuals to whom it happens and the circumstances in which they find themselves.
What I do know, and what I don't take for granted, is that I am not bound to one destiny above all others. I am responsible for the decisions I make and once I have made a decision, I can stand by it or change my mind altogether if the decision is not yet set in stone.
When I woke up this morning, I found myself looking back to January 1st 2005. On that day, I woke up in a cold, unheated apartment with an old friend of mine after working late at a Scottish bar near Pont du Neuf in Paris, France. We were both pretty broke but we were very young and we still lived for the moment. That year brought love and heartbreak into my life, both of which taught me a great deal and eventually led me to find the love of my life with whom I celebrate nine years in the summer of 2015.
In life, mistakes are made along the way but no mistake is so great that there is no point of return. Life is after all not only black, gray and white. It is a magnificent rainbow arrayed in all the colours of the world, and not only those we can see.
The more colours we see in the rainbow, the more we open ourselves up to all the wonderful things life has to offer. The best of memories are made when all our senses are wide open to the magic of life.