Another year has come, another has gone. New Year’s Eve is always such a wonderful time of reflection and celebration, and this year was no exception. Some friends of mine hosted a party this year and they asked me to prepare and deliver a speech, which I did. For your reading pleasure I post it here now. Most of the party-goers were fellow USC Trojans recently graduated, like myself, thus the references to that storied university. In any case, I hope you enjoy.
~New Years Eve, 2013~
This was a year of firsts, a year of seconds, and for the particularly gluttonous, it was a year of thirds. Many of you graduated from college for the first time. Many of you graduated from college for the second time. The particularly gluttonous did not graduate from college at all, but rather helped themselves to thirds at thanksgiving dinner. Monty Kiffin was fired this year. Then Lane Kiffin was fired. All signs point to a T-5 Sarknado heading for Los Angeles next year and the USC Trojans who are so near and dear to all of our hearts, are poised for a year of greatness.
We have been a nation at war, both abroad and at home over domestic policies. We have been a nation at peace, trying to build a better life and learn to live as the adults that we have so recently become. Some of you were married for the first time this year. For those of you who were married for the second and third times this year: shame on you. You’re only, what- 22? 23 maybe? But in all seriousness, the marriages that we have seen thus far this year, our friends J and S, B and A, and soon, K and C, we know that with God’s help they’ll go the distance. That distance is no small one. Psychology and our own life experience tell us that as we get older our perception of time speeds up, because we base our idea of time on past experience. We have more of it now. The days are just as long, but the years begin to feel shorter. Yesterday was 2009. Tomorrow is 2020.
Drones seem to have been on the scene in 2013. The military uses them, certainly, but also Amazon has now thrown their hat into the drone ring. By the end of 2015 this speech will likely be given by a speech drone, which is progress for certain, but also very boring. The mechanical orators of fiction always seem to drone on.
It is an interesting thing, this night of reflection. Man has always reached for the future just as he has always reached for the stars. The only difference, then, is that not everyone travels among the stars, but all men reach the future, one day, one second, and one breath at a time. Suddenly another wisp of what was once the present has passed, is past, and at last we are here and now, but that sentence was only accurate a few moments ago. We cannot help but speculate here on the eve of 2014 what the future will be like. What will we be like? We are certain to make resolutions and changes, may they be for the best and may we keep them. A certain dejected sense of inevitable failure surrounds New Year’s resolutions, but it does not need to be so, nor should it. With a long and healthy look at our lives on this night of reflection, we are apt to find some new weakness or some new opportunity for growth. With God as our strength, our hope, and with no small amount of perseverance, the changes can and will be lasting. Yet even so, I caution you with the warning of Ecclesiastes, where it says that it is better not to vow at all than to vow and not pay. Therefore, let our no’s be no’s and our yes’ to the affirmative. Anything else is evil and of this world. There is grace for stumbling, always, but let us not make a habit of breaking promises, even to ourselves.
2014 feels foreign now, but it will soon feel comfortable. It will be strange writing a four at the end of the date when we write checks and sign forms, but before long we will bemoan having to shift again, feeling the strangeness of a five. Time marches on, but we march on with it. The difficulty is remembering that though we are now young and fancy-free, the time will soon come when the sands in our glass grow few. None knows when his time may come- a comfort to us, surely, for heaven will show us the meaning of pleasure and rightness. Yet even so, let us remember that we will not be young forever. They say that youth is wasted on the young, but we, the young, have the benefit of the old young telling us that the young waste their gift of youth. So may we be an exception. My speech, like the year, once just beginning, is now at an end, but I leave you with these words of blessing:
May you work diligently and well and yet rest fully when it is time to rest.
May your relationships grow deeper, abounding both in depth and in joyous levity.
May you find love this year. It has many forms, yet all are in imitation of the First Love.
May you run and not grow weary, may you walk and not grow faint.
May you trust in the Lord in all that you do, and may the only fear that your heart knows be the fear of God, knowing that neither man nor beast nor sea nor storm nor demons nor circumstances nor death’s sickle itself may harm you.
Finally, I find that I can close in no better fashion than by quoting the immortal words of William Shakespeare himself as they pertain to the blessings, the warnings, and the encouragements that have been given in this speech: “If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”
2013 has ended. Here is to 2014.