For those who don’t really understand quantum physics, it would be easy to say that New Year’s Eve is a black hole – an active piece of the universe that swallows up dead light, the dying year with its good intentions, idle wishes, inane activities and dreams that were frustrated, destroyed or perhaps just deferred. Nothing can escape a black hole, it is said, but in this metaphoric black hole where the past is imprisoned, the permeable divider between past and present allows memories to steal back to us. In this case a look back does not turn one into a pillar of salt, as happened with the Biblical wife of Lot, nor does it cause everything to be lost, as Orpheus lost the love of his life for looking to see if indeed she had followed him from Hades. Rather, a moderated look back at the past year can give us what it takes to forge ahead.

Would New Year’s Day, then, be a supernova, flaming with the passion of new life?

Astronomers and physicists may be offended by such loose metaphors about their meticulous studies, but there is something about the increasing darkness of these days that makes one want to believe in light and rebirth.

Most of us have that secret wish, that buried New Year’s resolution, that remains unspoken, a tacit bargain with ourselves to be more patient, laugh more, eat less, volunteer or become a mentor, get in shape, plant a garden, compost, recycle, lose a few pounds, live more lightly.

And then there’s the big one, the overarching, every-day, every-year wish: May peace prevail on Earth.