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An Open Letter To The New Year

It started off quiet. With tea, something of a family tradition. We had to get it delivered because the cylinder ran out of gas. About fifteen months after I got it, we finally exhausted it on the last day of the year. I thought that's would be the symbolism of the week.

I have big plans this year, you know? Get my life back on track. Accomplish stuff I haven't been able to so far. Work toward things I never knew I wanted. Sort myself out, you know? I really think this is going to be the year I do that.

I made up my mind a long time ago about how I'll be spending the first day. Badminton in the morning, office after that. Come back early, and spend some time going through school manifestos or practice questions. Cap it off with a homecooked dinner, and get a good night's sleep to do it all tomorrow. And the day after that. Boring. Consistent. Effective, hopefully.

I was sad for some reason though. I couldn't put my finger on it, but something had me down as the world danced into the new year. Maybe because a series of difficult choices enabled this enlightened but solitary journey. And while I'm fine with trading those choices for a better tomorrow, most days anyway, celebrations aren't very festive for me. Now that I think about it, maybe it was an omen?

I ticked morning badminton off the checklist just how I had planned. Not a good game by any measure, but hey, starting right is a win. At least that's how I consoled my still gloomy mind. Came back to see the gas cylinder replaced, as if life had officially been reset. Talked to an old friend I hadn't been in touch with, had some tea, got ready for office. It happened after that.

I don't intend on making a career in suspense-thriller writing, so I'll skip the details. I got into an accident.

I'm in more than decent shape. Or deluded enough to believe it. You know how they say your life flashes before you when you're driving toward the thing you are definitely going to ram into? That's not true. Not for me, at least. It's panic. Pure, primal panic.

I was wearing a helmet, and the roads were empty. That's the only reason I'm still here. Where I have a swelling on the head could have been the point of contact where my brains split. I wish I was overstating it, but I'm not. It could've been over in an instant. I would've had to go without having hugged my family. Without talking to my dearest confidants. Without having heard the voice of the man I love. Without having made the world a better place. January 1, 2024 is the day I could have died. January 1, 2024 is the day I didn't.

I'm not afraid of death, never have been. I'm strangely comfortable with my mortality. But, I can't leave swollen eyes and cried out lungs behind me. I know what it feels like to be angry with somebody who goes before their time. To be abandoned, in a snap. I could never do that to the handful of people who have chosen to let me be a part of their lives.

I could talk about gratitude and promise living my days with a newfound joie de vivre, but I don't think I'm there yet. Maybe I'm still in shock? Maybe I'm hormonal. But as I walked into the emergency ward of the hospital alone, sobbing uncontrollably, I knew I was going in with a pain they didn't have a cure for - a broken spirit, which had been hanging on to the the last thread of a new hope. Battered down by life one too many times, it could see the thread fraying. If that weren't enough, an accompaniment of guilt, for it knows that it still has a better life than most can even begin to hope for. Which led to the shame of being fainthearted and weak-willed. I don't expect myself to be perfect. But the realization that I was closer to it five years ago as a naive kid than now as an adult hurts more than I care for.

It's been an eventful day. The abrasions sting. My toe has ballooned to an elephantine size, and is frustratingly painful. My body feels like it weighs a ton. I should get some rest.

Happy New Year, I guess.

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