Death Cab for Cutie “The New Year” and the Power to Create Meanings

“So this is the new year
And I don’t feel any different”

And so the song begins, lamenting the lack of real change despite all the festivities.  Can you relate?

We humans create structures out of nothing, and time is one of them.  A year is just a unit we came up to measure the passing of time based on how the planet behaves within the context of our solar system.  If we didn’t create such arbitrary structure, it’ll be hard to tell how much time has passed.

So from the ground up, time is an arbitrary concept.  Human creativity broke them down into units.  And the significance we attach to these units is entirely up to each individual.  If you decide that it’s meaningful, it is.

The character in this song starts out from this passive, waiting-for-something-to-happen perspective.  He didn’t even follow the American convention to create a new year’s resolution.  And rightfully, he is disappointed.

But he doesn’t stay there.  His imagination kicks in, and he starts visualizing a different state.  One where you look good.  One where you’re rich.  One where you don’t need clumsy transportation to go places.  His fertile mind travels fast, to a place where there are no constraints.

The song ends there, but you know what can happen next, if he had kept going, wishing and dreaming?

He would realize, that he is there, in a place where “no distance can hold us back.”  The distance does appear to exist, but the part about holding us back — that part, we’re making it up.  And just as we made that constraint up, and just as we came up with the concept of time out of nothing – you can start to create significance out of the time you’re spending in this life.  Maybe create a resolution.  Maybe decide to do something different this year.  Maybe choose to get to a project that you’ve been wanting to but never got around to.

We have the power to create that meaning.  If your life is meaningless, you’ve been lax in exercising that power.  A new year?  A new day?  Any occasion is the right time to change that. Our mind is funny, so it does feel easier to latch such decisions to a particular unit of time.  There is no need to change in a huge way — after all, if you are used to meaninglessness, your muscle for creating meaning will be weak.  Start with something small.  So small that you know you can nail it.  So small that you don’t need to postpone or procrastinate.  Do something that’s meaningful to you.  Today is the first day of the rest of your life.  Tomorrow is not promised.  Now is the only time that exists.  You have the power.