Editor's letter: How to handle what 2020 will throw at us
A peculiar thing happens between the final flourishes of December 31 and the first few moments of January 1.
We change. Just like that, we are a new person with new ambitions and a fresh new slant on the world. The promise and potential of an unsullied new year ahead transforms us into devout, forward-thinking individuals. We are the sort of person that plans on taking up surfing, or declares that this time they are definitely committing to going plant-based, definitely. Definitely. We dutifully fold away our cashmere in acid-free tissue paper and buy only classics that will last a lifetime because, of course, we are now too astute to be swayed by sartorial whimsy. We parkour into the new year with a bag full of virtuous aspirations that are, inevitably, by the month’s end, largely forgotten.
It is very much a Western ideology, this obsession with sudden change—and at no other time is it more keenly felt than on the crest of a new year. We applaud it. We believe that quick transformations are the best type. There is a bold, brash strength to it. A certain dignity. Or at least that is the narrative that we tell ourselves (and to that friend who make his annual declaration to run the Dubai Marathon). All of which makes the inevitable undoing of it all that much more disappointing. You’d think after 30+ years of it, we’d learn to stop kidding ourselves. The truth is that in those moments we genuinely mean it. The change we desire is heartfelt.
But there are no medals for speed of change—unless you surf yourself straight into Olympic medal contention in Toyko later this year. And, in all honesty, there is as much joy and honour in slow, quiet change as there is in fast, ostentatious revolution. Pleasure and satisfaction is most fully appreciated in the small steps towards success than it is in the final denouement of triumph. A new haircut is best enjoyed not from the barber’s chair but from the days of gradual tinkering that follow; a new sofa more gratifying once it has started to morph into your shape.
It’s these slight, gradual changes that we should be aware of as we do battle with what 2020 will throw at us. Slow and steady may not always win the race, but it’ll probably get us past the January 31 deadline for a change.