Starting a new year is a little like going on a blind date for the very first time. You aren't sure how special the person you meet will turn out to be in your life, but you are willing to give it a shot.
A little nervous - why not? Lots of reasons to be apprehensive with so much uncertainty at stake - but you know if you don't give it that one shot, it's a missed opportunity that's never going to come back for you.
At the same time, it's hard to meet this metaphoric "someone" new when I'm still mourning the loss of 2008.
Truth is... in the moments after the flash and bang of the final celebratory fireworks fade in the sky, I wonder how the revelers ushering in the new year feel... do they feel as I do? A little lost? Forlorn, even?
Central to the pathos I'm feeling is this question: The past. Where do all the years go after you stop thinking about them?
Do they disappear, like chaff blown away by the wind, ashes swept up and out to sea, never to exist anymore?
Somewhere, every event in the year will get recorded in pages and pages of history books, political journals, or sports almanacs, in ways that make sense to specific groups of readers with specific interests.
For instance, 2008 will surely be remembered by the Chinese for its devastating Sichuan earthquake, and the Beijing Olympics. For the Americans, it will go down in history as the year that the first Black American was voted to be the country's next president, also a year of global financial crisis. For Singapore, in certain quarters, I'd expect that people will remember the passing of colorful opposition leader JB Jayaratnam, ruined and perhaps politically martyred because he chose to stick to his guns loudly.
But what about our own personal stories? Who will record the years that saw each of us age a little more? Do these volumes exist in dust-filled bookshelves, to be picked out and read by A loving Critic who passes fair judgement with a Divine compassion?
I believe so.
I find it hard to believe that atheists place so much significance in the ability and omnipotence of man, and yet they've not found the answer to the question of their own personal significance. The militant atheists like to call believers superstitious weaklings who rely on religion as a kind of crutch to explain away their own failings.
How do they reconcile with their belief that at the end of their own life, is nothing?
There is a story from BBC about one of the seven wonders of the Industrial World - the Robert Stevenson's Bell Rock Lighthouse which was completed in 1811 off the east of the Scottish treacherous coast. In fact, the lighthouse lays claim to being the oldest offshore lighthouse still standing today anywhere in the world.
Built 11 miles out to sea, it was an architectural and logistical impossibility, yet brick by brick, mortar by mortar, it was completed against all odds, and today continues to provide precious light to ships approaching the Scottish east coast.
I want to remember this story, because when Dylan is old enough, I don't want him to think that every passing year is just a matter of course. I'd tell him that each moment of his life should be as useful as each brick on the lighthouse. And that at the end of it, his life should bring light to others from right at the top, a shining beacon amid the troubles of life.
Wow - talk about a post with a whole bunch of mixed metaphors.
So here's a big hello to 2009!
I look forward to getting to know you - even though you'd agree I'd be carrying some baggage into this new year - hopefully they'd be the useful ones.
Here's a verse to remind myself about from 2 Corinthians 5:17 -
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"