I came across a moderately entertaining article about the song “Auld Lang Syne”, which, when translated, means “long, long ago” or “old times past”. I’ve never known most of the lyrics to that song, but the few lines I did know never made sense to me. Especially without the full context of the song, which I never bothered to look into because I’m lazy like that when it’s something I ponder only one day a year. Well, now I know. And you’re about to know if you don’t already.
The song’s origin goes back to 1788. Some Scottish lyric poet basically stole the phrase “auld lang syne” from some unknown, old man and used it as the centerpiece of a song/poem he wrote and later sent to a musical museum. It spread throughout
, sung to mark the end of the year, and the rest is history. Scotland
Based on the few lyrics I knew, it always seemed like the song was saying we should forget and let go of the past. Specifically, people of the past. That always felt weird to me and I didn’t agree with it, but I went with it because it’s NYE and that’s what social conditioning taught me. Actually, my pals and I don’t typically have a rousing chorus of Auld Lang Syne on NYE, but it has happened. Anyhoo, the article clarifies that the song actually poses the question of whether old times past should be forgotten. Then, later, it answers that question for us with a boisterous NO. There were slightly varied interpretations of the lyrics in the article, but all agreed the song’s answer to the question is that the past has something important to offer us and should never be forgotten. That goes for all people too, including friends, family, heroes, mere acquaintances, one night stands, whomever. Everyone who comes into our lives affects us somehow, to some extent. Also agreed upon is that the song emphasizes the importance of the present as well. Bottom line: We can take something from every experience, every person, in our past, and in real-time we should slow down, absorb, enjoy, and revel in what/who we have in our lives. As one of the contributors said, "I think it's a description of the things we lose in our hurry to do things. We forget to be a friend. We have to take the time to make friends and be friends, to sit and tell stories and listen to those of others." As the last line says, “And there’s a hand, my trusty friend, and give a hand of thine. We’ll take a right good-will draught for auld lang syne”.
This NYE, take a hand, extend a hand, have cocktails with your peeps, be fully present (as much as you can half-crocked) and appreciate what they bring to your life and what you might bring to theirs. That is the lesson for today.
So, there you have it folks. Now tonight, when you sorta-halfway-mumble-sing this song at midnight through your whiskey breath, you will do so with relief and comfort because you’ll know what it all really means. I don’t know about you, but I already feel good about 2011 just by starting it on that note. One less stressor in my life.
Happy celebrating to all of you. Be careful out there (*said in Hill Street Blues voice*). And may you not have a New Year’s Evil.