When I was in the sixth grade, a whole generation filled time capsules and buried them in the schoolyard. We fully believed we would dig them up decades later and return to our sixth grade thoughts and memories in doing so. The world would be different and our simple tools and gadgets would reflect this when we revisited our capsules. The impracticality of this plan did not deter us from taking it all quite seriously, though there was never any real plan in place for the uncovering.
Much later as a grown-up, I adopted a yearly New Year’s Eve tradition, the ‘Burning Bowl’. In this tradition, you gather with friends and write on slips of paper, events or conditions of the past year that you would like to leave behind. There is the usual stuff – health problems, perhaps a conflict with friend or a habit you are not fond of; or maybe something even more profound such as a death or other loss. The slips go into a bowl and are burned.
You also make a list of positive things to symbolically replace these events with, and hang onto that list until the following year. Perhaps you have decided you will volunteer your time at a hospital, or promise to learn a new interest or skill. At that time, you revisit and reflect on your lists – an exercise in reviewing, reliquishing, and positive thinking. In some ways, it is more meaningful than a generic list of resolutions without real intention.
Recently, I came across a modern version; FutureMe.org. On this site, you can write future e-mails to yourself and have them delivered at some pre-determined point in time. It got me to thinking how strong the desire is to freeze moments and memories in time, through pictures, through writing, through sharing moments to become part of the collective memory. FutureMe.org…no replacement for the Burning Bowl and it’s ritual, but perhaps a reflection of a quickly changing world’s desire for holding on to memory and the chance for better things to come.
Happy New Year to all, no matter what your hopes and expectations are.