There’s something incredibly appealing about new year fireworks. There aren’t very many things that my over-thinking mind doesn’t try to work out the why of it, but it and fireworks have a truce. Fireworks just is, and basically so for everyone. It’s only a matter of whether you admit it or not.
The New Year’s Eve of 2017 was the first year I went to see fireworks where I now live in Kuala Lumpur, even though I’ve been here a year and they shoot them up almost literally next door in KLCC Park. It is the place, to see new year fireworks in KL.
The area is famously packed, and that’s the truth. I usually avoid crowds – don’t really like the jostle – but this year I’ve decided to try and look at where I live, as though I were visiting as a traveller.
So I went to the park with all the rest, even though I probably would have got a better view from my own apartment.
I watched them with delight as the others did, smartphones up and recording as is the culture of the day. I stood watching the dark sky when the last flurry was spent. A final cinder floated on a thermal, embering green as it slowly flickered out.
2016 had been a year of incredible highs and lows for me so I don’t really know what to feel at its passing.
It had begun with promise and dawn. So as it set, I feel as though I should like to grasp the waning rays, in memory of that blossom of happiness that never turned into seeds in the ground.
But there had been also, a regret that sank deep. The year had brought in my life once more the ways we seek to possess others and call it love. Truly, jealousy is the shadow of greed. How few of us understand that real love is a fountain, and not a black hole! And how impossible to explain, to those not ready to believe it.
Perhaps the universe does sift between those who have understood, and those who have not. And I have yet to be wise enough to stop struggling when it does.
New Year Fireworks in Kuala Lumpur: A Reflection
Out on the park at the epicentre of the metropolis, the crowd is incredibly diverse and truly international, everyone ambling along intending to watch the new year fireworks show. They blend into a uniform mass.
The entrepreneurial have broken out impromptu stalls in the streets hawking headbands with blinking lights. By the lake, against the backdrop of pop music and dancing fountains, the crowds blink amongst the trees as though there were technicolour fireflies signalling amongst us.
I thought then, that humankind basically can’t help but celebrate – anything and since all time – with sound and light. There’s just some kind of attraction to whatever that emits light and makes sound, for celebratory purposes.
Really the differences that arise between cultures basically revolve around what kind, and how much, and what it means for identity. (Although I have to assert my firm opinion that the vuvuzela is a diabolical invention that should be inflicted on no one of the human race!)
So yes, I know the expense of fireworks shows upon city coffers that may, in these trying times, be lighter than usual. As an environmentalist, there is the environmental damage of the chemicals to the waters and the air. Not to mention the probable hazardous working conditions of its manufacture.
And yet, and yet – and herein lies the knot of the most unsolvable of our global existential problems – it’s beautiful and charismatic. And so we overlook and forgive all of those things for the momentary elation we feel when we enjoy it.
Beauty and charisma.
The Achilles’ heels of mankind. The worst leaders we have ever known, the most vapid role models for us to follow, the stupidest things we might waste our life on, can be chosen on the strength on these two things alone. Indeed, the close of 2016 saw the civilised nations witnessing – with stupefaction – the new ‘leader of the free world’.
But why not? In a world that worships superficiality, what is more natural? A world where makeup girls are worth more than STEM women – are we not simply receiving what we deserve?
In the end 2016 showed us all across the world something common to us. Whatever knowledge and wisdom we have laboriously accumulated through the aeons on how to choose things of timeless value, its weight is still not greater than the glamour of our common human addiction – to charisma.