Here’s to a fun year. If that guy who misinterpreted ethnographer’s misinterpretation of the Mayans is right, this is the penultimate day of the penultimate year. Seems auspicious.
I didn’t end up learning a hell of a lot of French this past month. Je suis desole. I think I need a little more structure for learning something like a language. I’m starting an online class at uncollege.org for human computer interaction, next month; perhaps when that’s done I can explore an online French class.
My wife and I are moving yet again, in a month. This time to a swankier new place in an area built up by Microsoft, not too far from here. Super excited by it… Fiber to the house! Tankless water heater! The former equals gigabit internet and the latter equals Infinite Shower. Huzzah!
Anyway, I know the new year is an arbitrary point, but I still enjoy observing it. It’s fun, and even if a thing is artifice you can still get something out of it. At the very least you can use it as a flag planted in time to make observations. With that in mind, here at the Death of the Year I’d like to offer up something I’ve learned across the past 12 months.
You can have resolutions, or you can avoid them. You can enjoy Valentine’s Day, or you can skip it. You can be happy for someone’s fortune, or you can be indifferent. There’s a term I ran across the other day: “compersion”. It’s kind of a made-up term that basically translates to, “I am happy to see that you are happy despite it having nothing to do with me.” It actually has romantic connotations, because the word comes from the polyamorous community.
I like a more general sense of it, though. Other people’s happiness does not depend on you at all. Your friend got a promotion? Excellent! Sister is excited about an upcoming wedding? Good for her! Seems pretty reasonable right? There’s no real reason not to share in someone else’s joy. Translating for the nerds: Happiness is not zero-sum.
It’s really not as obvious as it sounds. Have you ever made fun of someone’s New Year resolutions? Have you ever been depressed that someone was dating while you were single? Ever been bitter at a wedding? Hell, have you ever been jealous? Have you ever told someone, “Dude, that link was going around months ago! Old.”
All of that is the exact opposite of compersion. At best you’re just feeling superior, at worst you’re belittling someone’s joy. It’s a pretty hard habit to break if you’re human. I’m still working on it — it’s bites me in the butt to this day.
So that’s my New Year’s wish for you and me. May we all be a little more compassionate to each other, a little more understanding, and a little less narcissistic.
Happy New Year, everyone!