Stepping into the New Year

I used to write these long annual review post every year on my birthday. It made sense because my birthday is when I’ve made a complete revolution around the sun. My birthday is when my year starts.

Derek Sivers has a blog post about how your year changes when your life changes. January 1 doesn’t mean anything to him.

“Your year really begins when you move to a new home, start school, quit a job, have a big breakup, have a baby, quit a bad habit, start a new project, or whatever else. Those are the real memorable turning points — where one day is very different than the day before.”

It’s tough to argue with that.

January 1 2021 didn’t feel remarkable different from December 31 2020. In fact, I was in my apartment making tea, and missed the countdown entirely. If I hadn’t heard the fireworks, I wouldn’t have known. And the next day was much of the same.

But the day I graduated university felt very different from the day that preceded it. The day that I moved to KL was also very different from the one before.

My friend Liy wrote this thing last year – on the first day of the islamic calendar – asking: If you’re going to start your own calendar, when would be your year one?

“I wonder 1442 years later, if 2020 is my year 1, my queer Muslim new year.”

Mine would probably be 2006, the year I left Nigeria. Or perhaps 2011, the year I moved to KL. Both, in a way, are a kind of Hijra.

Notice I wrote 2006 and 2011, and not whatever the year was on the Hijri calendar. Or the Chinese calendar.

That’s because the purpose of language is communication, and the purpose of communication is to convey information to another person. The only way to do so effectively is to have a set common reference points. Standards. Agreed upon definitions. A language with only one speaker is useless.

Use your own personal calendar if you want, but regardless, the first of January is the new year. Not because anything new is necessarily happening, but because the vast majority of us agreed that it’s the new year. The code that runs the software that you’re reading this on agrees that its the new year. The system that all the computers of the world communicate with agree that its the new year. That’s why the Y2K bug was a thing. It was only the year 2000 in that one calendar.

So, if you want to be a part of society, you must communicate in the way that society does.

For those of us in societies that were momentarily worried about Y2K –

Happy New Year 2021!

I hope to write more this year.

Al Ibrahim

Al Ibrahim

I'm a writer, photographer, filmmaker, and an all round creative enthusiast currently living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia