New Year, New Hope
Now I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions. I know myself well enough to know that it’ll take more than a changing date to motivate me to change. But I do inhabit a Hope Bubble in the liminal period between Christmas Eve and Epiphany (January 6th). It actually starts building in early December, but grows proportionally as the calendar year winds down.
I describe it as a psychological shedding of all the past year’s painful, horrible, miserableness. I mentally pack it all up in a box titled 2023 and for a few brief moments, live in the glorious suspended belief that things can start afresh.
Many others inhabit this Hope Bubble. We go around wishing each other a wonderful New Year fervent is the belief that if we say it enough, it just might manifest that way. Nothing bad has happened in the new year… yet. The future can hold every good thing. And good things carry far more weight than bad in an unwritten future.
I choose to prolong life in this Hope Bubble by avoiding negativity for as long as possible. I read books that make me think, ‘This year, the world can change for the better’. People can be kind and patient and respectful to each other like in the New York Times’ columnist David Brooks’ How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen.
Or I look for inspirational women’s stories like those in award-winning quantum physicist Dr Shohini Ghose’s Her Space, Her Time: How Trailblazing Women Scientists Decoded the Hidden Universe. She spotlights women scientists who should be household names like South-East Asian Bibha Chowdhuri, who discovered the neutrino, and Cherokee aerospace scientist Mary Golda Ross, who’s calculations helped make the USA’s Moon landings possible.
And I always think of Jane Fonda’s advice in What Can I Do? about being the change by donating time to an organisation for a cause you believe in. This goes hand-in-hand with the benefits of being community-minded that Marta Zaraska found in Growing Young. By helping someone else in whatever way I uniquely can – especially in these financially strapped and emotionally wrought times – it helps me maintain the hope for a better year this time around.
Maybe I’ll join the thousands of people (worldwide) in the largest-ever citizen science project on Joy. Created by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good in Action initiative, I would need to take a mere 7 minutes a day – for a week – to perform micro-acts of joy and see which ones work best for me. My feedback would then inform research for, umm… the greater good.
I’m planning for exhibitions and events that are uplifting, funny or have a positive message. Like feel-good football play, Dear England, starring Joseph Fiennes and Dervla Kirwan (Alyson loved it!). I am hoping to catch it in cinemas on January 25th with National Theatre Live, the same day that Somerset House’s CUTE: An Exhibition Exploring the Irresistible Rise of Cuteness opens. Not because I love twee things, but because I see the worldwide trend to ‘cute-ify’ as a counterpoint to the current ugliness in the world.
I don’t know if my Hope Bubble will last to the end of the month, and yet I love how I feel at the precipice of a new year. After all, I know the universe has a habit of laughing at such plans, but at least I’m starting the year off on a high.
Alexia Economou is a design and culture journalist, and regular TNMA contributor @thedesignfeedTW