I began to wonder if a year had thoughts? A personality? An individual consciousness? If 2012 were here sitting next to me, all uncomfortable because of the irregularity of its months, slightly underdressed because of the economy, and definitely confused by the constant bickering between nations, what would it say? That’s when the combination of a poorly digested pastrami on rye, a bad night’s sleep, and the riveting article on dental hygiene finally got to me, and I dozed off.
Me: Well, how’s it going there, old fella?
2012: Don’t talk to me about age. I’m just here for the year. No future plans.
Me: How does it feel to be the most talked about year, in, well, ages? Guess the Mayans weren’t right? Not the final chapter.
2012: Hummm, yes, well let’s see. Dec 21st, right? At least it would have meant missing some of the holiday cheer.
Me: Do I note a slight bitterness?
2012: Well, 2011 warned me. Really every year says the same in a way. “The more things change the more they remain the same” I believe the saying goes. Of course there were a few exceptions. Take 1969, he got us to the moon. Or 1883, always bragging about having the biggest fireworks display in history with Krakatoa. Then there were the more musically inclined years. 1810 gave us Schumann and Chopin, 1685, Bach, Handel and Scarlatti. I could go on.
Me: Please don’t. I have to get my teeth cleaned and can’t be late. The dentist doesn’t appreciate it and takes it out on my gums. So how is it that you know so much about the past?
2012: You know the phrase, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”? Well, let me assure you, memory is no guarantee.
Me: You seem to be full of sayings. Any original thoughts?
2012: Nope. Maybe just this, though I hardly think it’s original. The secret to happiness. I can give it to you. It’s really quite simple.
Me: Flossing regularly?
2012: Low expectations.
Me: Are you just naturally optimistic or do all those time zones keep you constantly jet-lagged?
2012: Realistic. Everything that happens to you, to anyone, is measured against something else. Someone else. Nothing exists alone. In a vacuum. Speaking of which, you might consider using one at some point.
Me: Well, for your information this year has been the best of my life, so far. I’ve performed more, written more and loved more than ever before.
2012: Exactly what I was saying. You’re comparing. It’s not your fault. There is nothing without everything else. It’s metaphysical as well as practical. Take me for example. Jan 1, when I checked into existence things were looking pretty good. There was a certain excitement in the air. In New York City they celebrated me by “dropping the ball” in Times Square. In Naples, Italy they simply pushed old dishwashers and washing machines from the windows of buildings. Each in its own way symbolizing a fresh start. A new beginning. And there is something incredibly seductive about starting fresh. We were all very excited.
Me: Naples, what a romantic city.
2012: Truly a lovely tradition.
Me: I’m having a baby in a couple of weeks.
2012: There you go, the epitome of starting afresh. Creating life. Very seductive.
Me: Here’s what I think. You’re a bit nervous because it’s all winding down for you. You were hoping the Mayans were right but after all they didn’t predict their own demise, so it wasn’t likely they’d guess ours either.
2012: You’re starting to get on my nerves.
Me: This is what you’re not considering with your big “Low Expectations” theory and “nothing exists on its own” rhetoric. These pairs are pairs precisely because they are from the same ‘essence’. They belong to each other. Bad IS bad only in relation to good and thinking about it this way is very much the problem. It’s not that 2012 is a better or worse year. It’s a part of the whole experience. The individual things that we separate out are only an illusion. They simplify life but it would be a mistake to get attached to them.
Dentist: …it would be a mistake to get attached to them. We just devitalized the nerves and removed them. Any wisdom you thought you had is definitely no longer because of your teeth.
Me: I was just having this crazy dream.
Dentist: Must be the new anesthetic we’re using. It hasn’t been officially approved yet but I figured I’d give it a try on you. Rinse and clean up, and then go talk to my secretary as our rates just changed for the New Year. And, Happy Holidays!
Julian Gargiulo is a pianist and composer who divides his time between wishing sabre-toothed tigers weren’t extinct and making paper pirate hats out of his old bios. In between his involvement as fundraiser for and friend of diabetes he also finds time for touring with his new album No Smoking, working on his nonprofit 16000children.org, curating the Water Island Music Festival in the US Virgin Islands and Crossing Borders of Hunter College in NY, and endlessly walking the streets of New York in search of people to add as Facebook friends.
If you’re ever in need of a good character witness, he can be found at: www.juliangargiulo.com.