Resolutions for the new year

It’s monsoon again here in Singapore. It’s cool and rainy, and there’s a sense of resigned calm. Construction workers sleep and play on their phones under makeshift shelters, people huddle under umbrellas and stand on their balconies, waiting for a break in the weather. It’s a fairly gloomy way to start the New Year, but perhaps an apt one.

2014 was a pretty shitty year. We’re supposed to have reflected on what we’ve achieved and learned, and then set some well-meaning resolutions for this New Year. But 2014 sucked. It was a year of fear and suffering: Daesh, Ebola, the endless conflict in Syria, airplane disasters, thinly-veiled and institutionally-sanctioned racism. It sucked. 2015, so far, hasn’t been much better.

I had a conversation with a friend on New Year’s Eve about 2014. She’d had a shitty year on a personal level as well, so I told her vehemently that 2015 would be better.

“It has to be,” she said. It was said without self-pity and without melancholic longing, just a statement of fact. A resolution in itself.

It’s the time of year when we’re supposed to be writing lists about how we’re going to start exercising and drinking less and about how we’re sticking to it this time, dammit. But the only resolution I have is to make 2015 better. There’s not much I can do on a global level. But I can refuse to be intimidated. I can learn more about those who are misunderstood and misrepresented. I can smile at strangers, I can mean it when I ask how you are or when I tell you to have a good day. I can call my family and friends more often. I can be there when they need me, even if it’s from afar. 2015 will be the year of making the best of things. 2015 will be doing what we can with the hand we’re dealt, even if it’s just throwing the cards into the air and laughing.

It’s still raining outside but, in the manner of those who live in the tropics, I’ll shrug and get on with it. It’s good weather for thinking and writing, for eating noodles, and going for a walk, believe it or not. It’s cool, a rare respite from the exhausting humidity. There’s an upside, there always is. And despite the rain, life goes on. It has to.