1 JANUARY 2018

New year, new year

It's really all about people

Blurred photo of fireworks

I never really bought into the idea of celebrating the change of dates into the new year. Yes, throughout various points of my life I have been involved in numerous new year celebrations and dinners but from what I remember this was always because of the family and friends around me rather than what I wanted to do.

This year, I had options.

When 31 December of 2017 came along, I really had no plans at all. I was glad to be back in Melbourne on the 30th after spending 2 weeks overseas in Cambodia but I was also tired from moving around. All I wanted to do was catch up on sleep, wake up late on New Year's eve and go to the market to buy a week's worth of groceries in preparation of getting back into the routine of my summer placement at Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

But things did not go as planned. I did wake up early and I had a very successful round of getting all the groceries and treats I wanted to get me through the week then I got a WhatsApp message from a familiar number just after midday.

The text read, "Hey Julian, are you back in Melbourne?".

This was my Mum's sister, who I later found out happened to be in the city for her elder son's wedding.

"Yeah, I just got back." I replied. "Really happy to be back in the cold and clean Melbourne air. I just got my bags from the airport and heading home now."

"Come over to my son's house tonight for dinner." she wrote.

I immediately replied "Yeah sure, I did not have any plans for tonight. See you soon."

End of conversation.

“The view of the city skyline was near perfect and when the clock struck 12 am, the fireworks seemed to go on forever.”

"Screw not having any plans, I'm going to go hangout with some people I know" was the thought going through my mind once I put my phone down. I was grateful.

I ended up having a really enjoyable night. I left home around 6pm to get to my cousin's place in time and had good conversations while sharing food at the dinner table. An hour before the 12am mark, we went for a 5 minute walk to the nearest high ground which was Melbourne's War Memorial. It was easy to find a good spot to sit despite there being quite a lot of people there, when we arrived it was not completely packed out just yet. The view of the city skyline was near perfect and when the clock struck 12 am, the fireworks seemed to go on forever.

I walked home from the War Memorial feeling a sense of fulfillment and peace that I knew I would not have experienced if I had had stayed home on that New Year's eve.

Melbourne Federation Square
Photo credit: Julian Goh, 2017

Celebrating New Years Eve did not mean doing something grand or celebrating just for the sake of the date. It meant getting together the family and people close to you, to share a meal at the dinner table and to talk about the past year and then sharing the moment when midnight comes along. It's not really about what happens but more on who you get to celebrate the occasion with that is more important. And I think that's really nice.

1 January 2018. Life continues as usual. I did not wake up in the morning feeling like a whole new "me". I still ate breakfast the way I normally do. I still practiced writing 200 words at night. But, it was a reminder that today was the opportunity to set aside some time to review the past 365 days, to think about the path I have been travelling on and to re-assess where I would like to go in the next.

Real change is going to take time but also a lot of persistence and dedicated effort, not just from the calendar ticking over into the new year.