Ashes in the New Year
Illustration by RK Tiu
Ten seconds from now, the ashes fall. Eight seconds more.
It is so in this world. All things ephemeral, all things doomed. From nothingness to nothingness, both an eternity and an instant in between.
All histories bring me to this moment, and this present takes me to infinite possibilities. Yet of all the ripples of the now, it is on this occasion, this still in my arrow, this celebration of new beginnings, that I remain in awe.
The yellow spark rises up the midnight sky. In six seconds, it is ashes. I witness it as of the moment.
A girl wraps her arms around the shoulders of a younger boy. In one past, their parents do not happen upon each other. In another, the mother miscarries the girl, and the boy, not attempted; I watch as the parents forget what innocence is.
A man in front of me reaches for the hand of a woman beside him. Their fingers lock. In one history, he gets killed in a sinking ship. In another, she is robbed and murdered. In a third, he misses the train where they meet; from there, they laugh less often.
A young man in red opens a can of beer. With him, another man in green and another in blue cheer him on — his first taste of alcohol. In another time, the man in red refuses to attend his classes. The man in green becomes a delinquent. The man in blue, hanging from the ceiling to escape dejection. Their paths do not cross; they do not understand the void their absences make.
With a soft roar, streaks of blue, of red and of yellow illuminate the sky. In three seconds, they are ashes. I am there.
The girl and the boy embrace their parents.
The man and the woman share a kiss.
The three young men raise their cans after taking a quick sip.
The ashes fall.
It is so in this world. All things ephemeral, all things doomed.
The girl and the boy disappear.
The man and the woman disappear.
The three young men disappear.
All memories of them, forgotten.
Yet does it matter?
It is a wonder to me. Of all the tragedies of all pasts, the children, the lovers and the friends gather here and share a singular moment of joy. From the birth of the universe, this moment is improbable, yet here they are. In a future where the only certainty is doom, they still find bliss.
From nothingness to nothingness, both an eternity and an instant in between, yet these beings manage to find meaning in this void. This meaning is beyond my grasp. Perhaps, it is the meaning of life to give meaning to one’s life — to define elation in the midst of sorrow, to overcome the mundane and establish the profound.
Of all the ripples of the now, it is on this occasion, this still in my arrow, this celebration of a new epiphany, that I remain in awe.