And so it begins…
“I’m not sentimental— I’m as romantic as you are. The idea, you know, is that the sentimental person thinks things will last— the romantic person has a desperate confidence that they won’t.” — from This Side of Paradise by F Scott Fitzgerald
I am perhaps the biggest sentimentalist I know. More often than not I have been consumed by nostalgia or what the Portuguese deem saudade, the longing for something or someone that has irrevocably been lost; yet the sentimentalist in me, much like Amory Blaine from This Side of Paradise, insists on holding on to what has happened before and is unlikely to happen again.
Sentimentalism, no doubt, feeds my capacity to absorb and admire the ‘glow’ in every positive moment, to manifest itself in the lilts and cadences of poetry. Yet sentimentalism also carries its burdens: when it is so easy to stay hooked on what has already happened, it inevitably becomes difficult to appreciate novelty without somehow drawing parallels to the past. In this sense, being sentimental is equally about the yet empty future as it is about the brimming, overwhelming melange of the past.
So it is with great sentiment that I write this post at the most sentimental time of year — the period of reflection and anticipation that exists prior to the heralding of a new four-digit representation of what we’ll mean in the vast calendar of human history. Of course, it is equally a time of celebrating what the previous string of four digits has presented us, of patting it on the back and saying, à la Robert Browning, ‘How sad and bad and mad it was — but then, how it was sweet!’
Even if you aren’t quite the sentimentalist (or even quite the opposite), it’s nevertheless worthwhile to take a step back and consider the gravity of what has happened to you and the world this year. Only a few select days of the year make you truly consider how time flies in this life — your birthday and the New Year being two primary examples — and these are the moments which merit a good ol’ rendezvous between the you of now and the you of before. Because even if the sly ways of the world makes life seem frankly terrible at times, upon realizing that you have changed — in some way or the other — you can sow the semblance of hope found in recognizing our human ability to grow, develop, and enhance ourselves.
And boy, was 2015 a year!
There are a great many sources online that directly address the kaleidoscopic range of events that shocked us, relieved us, brought tears to our eyes in 2015. I’d say end-of-year collections of key photojournalism are a good place to start: recently a friend of mine sent me a link to The New York Times’ The Year in Pictures, which was definitely very moving. This video from The Atlantic was also another recommendation I received.
Personally, 2015 has been a rollercoaster year. There are a great many things I’d love to share in this wee bit of webspace I call my own, but perhaps they’d be more appropriate for a pen-on-paper affair. Some things I can share, however, are some of the highlights I’ve already mentioned on this blog: my family trip to Scandinavia, my initiation into film photography, learning French, conquering my very first examinations, meeting Alain de Botton… the list goes on.
But of course, as the personalized WordPress Annual Report announced to me with great fanfare: 2015 was the year in which I publicly shared my blog for the first time, in what was one of the most humbling moments of my life!
As 2016 looms ever closer, and I itch even more to use the wonderful brown-backed planner I bought for myself as a pre-New Year treat, I can only hope that I’ll be writing on all sorts of eclectic thoughts far into the new year. That I’ll be happy whilst doing so. That 2016 will be yet another year of change, for better or for worse, and that the world and I become all the better for it.
So — I bid you adieu, 2015! ‘Twas a blast.