The Tenderness of a New Year
Of all the holidays throughout the year, New Year’s is the only one that really resonates with me. There’s something so tender and bright about it, something so hopeful in peoples’ energy, something liminal in the way the light falls. Even though we all know that the concept of linear time is a human construct, and that the new year falls where it does because we humans decided it does and not due to any earthly or planetary imperative, it still seems full of buoyant hope and new promise to me.
Transition times are like that. Whether they’re personal transitions like a big birthday, the birth of a child, or a death, or more universal ones like the more-or-less globally understood transition from one Roman calendar year to another, they all carry the heavy weight of promise, as well as nostalgia and remembrance for the past, and the shifting uncertainty that, if we pay attention, characterizes all of life. At new year’s we stand on the edge of something new. Even getting into the habit of writing new numerals when we write the date is a transition, a new way of thinking, as simple as it sounds.
Whenever we’re faced with a transition, we risk getting lost in worry about the future or regret about the past. The challenge – as in all of life – is to sit with the not knowing, the uncertainty, and not drift off into reveries about what great things might happen – I might finally get that job or that lover I’ve been after! – worries about what might befall us – this might be the year my mom gets sick – or regrets about what didn’t happen last year – I didn’t meet my goal of losing weight, why can’t I ever seem to do the things I want to do? The new year is a time to think about our intentions, to reflect on the past but not get caught up in it, and also to sit with the boundless energy of the universe from which any and all things can grow. It’s a time to hold the world lightly and not get hung up in a swirl of attachment and aversion.
When any new life form is born, its future is uncertain. The form it will ultimately take will depend on more factors than anyone can know. The new year is like this. We simple can’t know what will happen. Can we be with this not knowing and let the energy of the universe work out its form? Can we watch it unfold with curiosity rather than with trepidation or regret, or with attachment to our desires?
My hope for all of us in this sweet unfolding transition time from one year to the next is to hold space for whatever may arise, and watch our hopes, desires, fears, and regrets as they ebb and flow. Oh, and to spend the time in whatever way serves our spirit. Peace, Laughter, and Insight to you all. Happy New Year!
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