“Come what come may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.”
— William Shakespeare, Macbeth (I.3.150-52)
To say that it was a fantastic year that began with promise and ended in fulfilment would be a flagrant lie. 2016 was, by all counts, outwardly nondescript; it was a year steeped in sedate contemplation of first principles and final destinations. I went back to the drawing board many times; for hours I stoked new fires from old, expired embers—they blazed bright momentarily, then vanished into the night sky of my mind. What had I set out to do before the churn of the middle-class machine drowned out the siren song? Where am I going—this bleary-eyed passenger whose life is beginning to slow down with the comfortable lull of the dreamtide? Restlessness and nostalgia were uncanny bedfellows this year: one in frustrated anticipation of an uncertain future, the other wallowing in the mists of a distant past.
As the socio-political pendulum swings right once again, the world is cloistering—each in their own sacred conclave, like houses shuttering against the onslaught of the angel of death. Truth be told, I have professed to hate politics in my earlier, more naive teenage years, content to muse and mope within the confines of oblivious youth. Now in my late twenties, however, I have never felt my psychology more influenced by global events transpiring outside my immediate locus. The recent scourge of anti-globalisation has induced in me a gnawing sense of urgency, and I cannot help but feel that time is running out. There are things I have yet to do. The doors are closing. The future is restless.
Recently, I’ve caught myself drifting back into the past like a ghost haunting a terrible shipwreck. It is one thing to let the flood of images float past consciousness; it is another to dive into the raging stream to search for something lost. The pursuit is almost painful. You latch onto fragments and inch your way towards a reconstructed whole—and, my god—when the picture of that tragic encounter is complete, the memory is suddenly saturated many times over, blinding like the piercing gaze of a passing foglight. Then you remember why you chose to forget.
2017 is a few hours away, but I still cannot seem to shake off this feeling that I have not accomplished anything noteworthy in the past year. Surely, this must be the work of a faulty perception that grossly understates what I have done. But for the first time in awhile, I’m prompted to consider what it is that truly affords me that elusive calm of fulfilment—or whether I’ve ever found it before.