We are approaching the new year, which means that people across the globe are making New Year's resolutions. I am among them. Year after year, I resolve to lose weight, get fit, keep up with correspondence, eat healthy, yada yada yada. I never really keep them, but I make them earnestly. I can't help myself! The promise of a new year is so seductive, isn't it? It's a fresh start, a clean slate, an actual-brand-new calendar. As a matter of fact, I couldn't wait until Jan. 1 to open my new desk calendar. 2014 was completely coffee-stained, warped, and torn -- literally and metaphorically. I can't tell you how nice it is to have a new, clean, and unspoiled calendar on my work desk. (Add to New Year's resolutions: 1. Don't spill coffee on my desk 2. Write events legibly.)
My friend who writes for the local paper did a thought-provoking column about New Year's resolutions and their stickability, or lack thereof. In my Facebook inbox today, I received a message from another writer asking if I made resolutions and, if so, what were my resolutions for the upcoming year?
All this resolution chatter got me to wondering.
What is it about the new year that gives us all hope? What mystery does Jan. 1 hold that emboldens us to cease behaviors we consider damaging as well as commit to new ones we fancy may help us become better? It's as if we go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning a different person, a more determined, more driven, and ambitious person. Why now? Why this day? In the great scheme of things, isn't it just another day? Why have we set this particular moment as a milestone? Does turning the page hold that much power?
And as long as I'm asking questions, why can't we choose any day to make a decision to better?
We are somehow lovestruck with the idea of new beginnings. We have high school and college graduations sure, but there are also middle school graduations, elementary school graduations, and even pre-school graduations. That's a lot of cap and gowns, not to mention gift card buying and back yard barbecues. Regardless of the ceremony participants' age, most graduation speakers seem to elude to a road lying before, a journey that we will be on, a life of potential that we can look forward to, and various other metaphors. We all nod vigorously, applaud, and move our tassels from the right to the left -- or is it the other way around? Regardless, something in us desires a ceremonial turning of the page, an act of putting the past completely behind us and setting our feet and our faces toward a new direction.
I have a really good friend, some would consider them my best friend, and we recently had a falling out of sorts. One where we could have ended our friendship, cut our losses, and walked away. However, we didn't. We talked through it and chose to create a new beginning for us. We forgave each other and we forgave ourselves. Isn't that what the "turning of the page" means? To forgive yourself? To give yourself permission to be fallible? Isn't that what New Year's resolutions are all about? Saying to yourself, "Yes, I may have screwed up. I may not be the person that I want to be, but by God and all her angels, I'm going to take my life by the horns and choose a new direction. I am going to choose today to put my faults in the past and better myself." We forgive ourselves, so that we can move forward and become a better and more productive version of ourselves. We do this in the new year collectively and ceremonially much in the same way that we all celebrate the love of family and friends during the holiday season. As a matter of fact, if the December holidays are about sharing the love with friends and family, New Year's is about sharing the love with ourselves. (No, I'm not talking auto-erotic pleasure here.)
There are Christmas movies galore that speak of sharing the spirit of Christmas year-round, and I don't think anyone would argue against that. But, I'll submit to you that we may be a better society if the spirit of New Year's was given to us year round -- the spirit to forgive ourselves all of our faults and failings, to say to ourselves, "it's okay to screw up, just pick yourself up dust yourself off and start over again." This doesn't need to happen solely on Jan. 1. Magic like that should happen daily.
Or, to sum it all up and get in an Anne Shirley quote at the same time, always remember that " tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it."
Whatever the date is.