2017 has dawned with a whole lot of expectation from people around the world. Most people would universally recognise 2016 as being the quintessential ‘annus horribilis’. War, strife, natural calamity, mass drownings, bombings, earthquakes, celebrity deaths, economic hiccups, China contracting, Brexit and Donald Trump have all peaked during the year that passed. So unless you have had the joy of having a marriage, birth in the family, winning the lottery, holding on to your job or migrating legally to a greener pasture, your view of the year 2016 would be rather dim.
But then that means 2017 just has to be a normal, rather humdrum year for it to beat its ante ego in the popularity stakes. However, the world doesn’t do humdrum anymore. Everything is preceded by an ‘ultra’, ‘all-new’, ‘super’, ‘fantabulous’ or a similar moniker that implies a feeling of being superior to anything that’s ever existed before. It’s either that or the suffix portion that usually describes the version number. In an electronic age, we are now so familar with numbers that keep incrementing to signify the next major improvement. We are already at the iPhone 7 and Samsung Note 7 (oops, let’s just keep that limited to the S7 then, shall we?) or indeed Windows 10 or iOS 10. But we also have the new exaggerative force of the word Plus, as in iPhone 7 Plus and all the other me too badging. While it’s almost big enough to be an iPad Minus, we still prefer the plus and pay twice as much over anything else.
Of course we shouldn’t let the automotive world and it’s way of shaking off older models, their resplendent model years and as much of their detritus and baggage as possible pass us by. No other consumer facing industry is as handy with opportunistic badging as the one we so love – perhaps with the exclusion of the FMCG market. You can get the same product sold in multiple countries with different names, or multiple products sold in the same country under the same name. The permutations are so varied that I’m sure that these companies hire entire divisions just to track them.
However if we just stay with the cars for a moment, you will notice how careful companies are to sell out older models before they are replaced by the shiny new metal of an ‘all-new’ successor. Of course it doesn’t help that the consumer is also smart enough to realise an opportunity when he sees the ‘special deal’ badging on the car in the corner. It just takes some zen and a tad more of maturity to realise that anything is really new, really desirable and worth any amount of lip-licking only till it is sold to you. After that it’s already a used car.
But that really doesn’t mean that i am advocating a sense of anti-consumerism. After all, today’s capitaiist economic model thrives on a healthy level of desire driven consumerism. We all want newer, better, shinier or more powerful everything. It’s only the spiritually evolved, emotionally neutered or the really curmudgeonly among us that can resist the appeal of moving on to the next great thing. As much as i would like to think that i inhabit a safe middle ground, I know it isn’t true. I no longer desire the next best thing, if what I have is good enough. Not like 2016. That was bad on many fronts for me too, but it definitely had some good days stuck in there.
I would like 2017 to be evolutionary and not revolutionary in the terms of automotive design. It should remind me of all the good days of the past year, like rediscovering who my true friends and family were, it should allow me to spend more time in building the relationships I found in the turmoil of reinventing my professional life, it should definitely bring with it lots more of driving days (after all any day spent driving a great car is a day well spent) and it should afford a whole lot more opportunities of the kind that 2016 showed the potential for – methinks I have thought too badly of 2016 after all! Perhaps the year just didn’t try hard enough.
Anyway, i would rather feel like I had an active role in shaping how the new year flows around me. So the first act is to believe – Joan of Arc is often quoted as having said “One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.” Let 2017 be your own personal paean to the strength of your belief and conviction. Things will go your way. And if they don’t just add 2017 to the dust heap along with the year that got away.