The calendar has turned from 2011 and the much-heralded year of 2012 is finally here. Each New Year provides a chance to take a fresh breath and to begin anew, to mark together what is coming to an end and to welcome the year that’s just arriving. How we spend New Year’s Eve might be important in setting this new course.
As a kid, I remember joining the millions of people watching a ball drop in New York’s Times Square. We jumped up and down in our living room in front of the television even though it was not yet midnight in the time zone where we lived. Looking back this might have been a way for our parents to get us to go to bed after 11 pm, giving them an hour of peace and quiet in the old year.
Celebrating with people who are important to me is always my preference, as well as doing something I find invigorating and renewing. I remember a New Years’ Eve in 1987 spent with my parents, siblings, and adult children in a kind of family reunion in Texas. We dined on the top floor of a skyscraper and danced in the New Year to the accompaniment of a live band. And yes, there were paper hats, noisemakers, and something that bubbled like champagne.
But this year seemed a special turning. According to the prophecies of the Maya, 2012 marks the ending of a 26,000-year cycle. I wasn’t sure how one should celebrate such an auspicious occasion. My husband and I had signed up for an evening of ballroom dancing that included a supper at midnight, more like celebrations in the past. Then we were invited to bring InterPlay to an event titled, Peaceburgh 2012. Peaceful Gathering of Hands, Nakturnal, Transition Town, Gather the Women, Transformational Alliance, and others sponsored the event. The invitation said, “Join us for a new paradigm of partying! “
At this multigenerational potluck event there were no drugs or alcohol but lots of generous sharing of special gifts. Ac Tau, a descendant of the Maya and a recent visitor to Pittsburgh, sent a message asking us to perform a ritual for peace, which we did at midnight. The Plumed Serpent Labyrinth involved a geometric design similar to a maize, finger traced by a number of representative of the community to connect us with Ac Tau’s community in Mexico and around the globe.
After a time of silence at midnight we were asked to commit to taking one minute a day to become peace throughout the year. For residents of Peaceburgh who recognize that peace is a verb, this was an easy commitment to make. It will be interesting to see at year-end, what a difference this practice has made in our personal and communal lives.