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  • johanmcneily

New Year, New Me - Who you gonna call?

1984 was a tricky year for me. Relocating from one end of the country to another felt like I had entered another world, a world where I didn't fit! I sounded different, I dressed differently and my cultural experiences of community were soooo different. I was the lonely kid, looking for a saviour.

Well that saviour came in December 1984, when I entered the dark, musty, local cinema with a few (2 to be precise!) friends I had managed to convince that I wasn't some marauding savage from North of the Border! My saviour(s) took the form of 4 misfits trashing New York in the quest to save the world from Mr Staypuft, the 100 foot marshmallow man, and Gozer the Gozarian, a creature that was a cross between David Bowie and Grace Jones, and might I add sported the best Flat Top of the 1980's, hellbent on Earth's destruction.

Ghostbusters was a turning point in my being accepted in my alien world. As we cheered and whooped (yep we did that back in 1984) the four unlikely heroes a transformation happened, for me at least. I was one of them. I belonged to the 300+ strangers sat in a darkened room with a common goal. I had found a tribe!

37 year on I can still feel that excitement as we all sang the anthemic Ghostbusters theme in unison, not very tunefully may I add, but wow what a feeling to be part of something. The memories and associated feelings of that dark, wet December day are like familiar old friends to me and I visit the film often when I feel I bit frazzled, or a bit sad, or when I just want to feel free of adult life's stresses.

And now I get to share this piece of cinematic genius with my own children, and that in itself is like giving them an extra piece of Mummy, although when I try to explain what the film means I am hit with "Mum, stop being weird, or Mummy why are you being so mushy?" Well, frankly my dearest children I don't give a damn that you think I am a weirdo for loving this film the way I do, in fact I strap that weirdness on like a proton pack ready to kick Gozer's butt!!

But what has my experiences of seeing Ghostbusters all those years ago got to do with a New Year, a New Me? Well, for me it is have everything to do with the expectations that the turning of a New Year brings.

As the clock strikes midnight on the 31st December and Auld Lang Syne rings out, thousands place an expectation on themselves. The expectation that you need to change! "I'm going to get fitter", "I'm going to lose weight", "I'm going to change careers", "I'm going to be kinder/nicer/smarter, say no more often, find time for me........" And on and on it goes, stacking up until a couple of weeks into the New Year it becomes overwhelming as normal life resumes and takes it's toll (especially after the past 2 years we have endured).

In 2016 a reboot of my beloved Ghostbusters was released.

Ooooh, I was excited to revisit my old friend in HD, in a swanky new cinema, on the big screen, so happily parted with my hard earned cash for me and No2 child to feast on my expectations of what a cinematic joy this would be! Words cannot express my deep rooted disappointment, no RAGE, that this film caused me! Where was my dear old friend? Where was my feeling of being part of something? I was so angry that someone had defiled my precious memories. "How could they do that? Why would they do that? Why did they change it to tick a diversity box?" I ranted in the car, all the way home! My, then 8yr old, son, sat quietly, probably wondering what on earth had happened to "happy mummy" who entered the cinema and was now replaced with "completely distraught mummy". He piped up "I'm really sorry your sad Mummy. I know how much Ghostbusters means to you" Talk about out of the mouths of babes, he got it. He got that something had shifted for me and he showed me the empathy I needed in that moment.

In 2016 someone, somewhere decided that Ghostbusters needed to be NEW! It needed to be updated, it needed to be transformed, or in New Years resolution terms, it needed to eat healthy and jog around a park!! No, it didn't, because by being NEW, it took away the essence of what the film represents. It took away the need for 4 misfits, being themselves, kicking ghost butt and saving the world!

Now apply this thinking to yourself. Do you need to be a NEW you just because a bell tolled? Do you need to transform your essence to fit a social construct which may lead many to feel like a failure?

Resolutions can be a motivation to grow and improve oneself but only if in the process you do not lose your essence.

When the newest Ghostbuster offering was advertised I must say my heart sank a little, but my now, ever so wise,12 year old son persuaded me to take him to see it. And I am glad that that boy has the insight to know it's what I needed to reclaim my old friend again. My old saviour was back! Not the saviour of 37 years ago, but a saviour that has grown and matured and remained true to it's essence, my Ghostbusters!

I laughed, I cheered, I cried (oh boy and did I cry!) as the tale unfolding on the big screen, and not just because it was cracking film, but more, much, much more than that, it was mine again.

It made me realise that NEW isn't always better if it's heart is ripped out.

NEW is when we grow, in the body and heart that IS our essence. NEW is taking all the good, all the bad, all the indifference and making it work for US, not for others.

NEW is listening to your inner Dr Pete Venkman and screaming "We came! We saw! We kicked it's ass!" and being the best Ghostbuster you can be!

So when you think New Year, New Me - Who you gonna call?

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