365 Opportunities

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 5.45.38 PMAfter coming back from a long holiday, stretching from the end of exams to Jan. 5, the general conclusion that I’ve heard from most students is: “what break?” The average three weeks off gives a total of 504 hours of productivity, relaxation and reunion (or procrastination and hibernation for those I’ve talked to).

While looking back and realizing I didn’t capitalize on the hundreds of hours at my disposal over the winter break, I think the same can be said for the year itself, which I’m sure is relevant to many others as well. 2014 is over, and along with it went 8,736 hours and 524,160 open minutes. That’s not to say our collective years have been wasted. Beyond looking forward in terms of resolutions and goal-setting for the year ahead, allowing adequate time to reflect on the ‘year that was’ is important as well.

While it may be inevitable that some ‘bucket-list’ ambitions get pushed back another year, it’s seem more important to make sure that you are satisfied with the fading year. Not necessarily with what you did, but how you did it.

Moving from the individual to the cultural, I shudder at the thought of what might be written in history textbooks decades from now. Certainly, even lists and reflections written in the present don’t bode well for any sense of generational sophistication or enlightenment.

Looking at Elite Daily’s article “100 Basic Things That Perfectly Sum Up The Year 2014”, among the top rankings are pumpkin spice lattes, Tinder, wine ice cream and selfies.

There’s arguably nothing inherently wrong with anything on the list (except the selfies, of course) but they can certainly not be accredited as civilizational accomplishments. Perhaps our society has reached a crossroads at which we must decide what is real,what is fake and what is important versus what is superfluous?

I want 2014 to be remembered for the Rosetta mission, for Canada building the first museum dedicated solely to human rights in Winnipeg, and for the rallying and support of Canadians after a potentially sensational and alarmist attack on our capital.

2013 probably wasn’t much better in terms of cultural advancement, and for all I know there may have been an article published in 1920 that articulated “showing your ankles” as the year’s summative accomplishment, but more importantly, in these beginning moments of 2015, we as individuals have the ability to decide how people will refer to our ‘time in the spotlight’ as the dominant, active generation.

I think we need to do far more than simply look at a pre-generated Facebook “yearbook” to adequately conclude our year. We need to reflect and think hard about what each one of us did with the endless opportunities 2014 brought. I’m not referring to job promotions, paying off student debt, or improving our grades, but instead, whether we made the decision to be happy each and every one of the 365 gifts of 2014.

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