Sunday, January 01, 2006

Turning a Page

2006. Overall, a nice-looking number, though not as visually balanced as 2002. I write the date on paperwork dozens of times every day. How long will I continue to write "2005" before the change becomes second nature? Hopefully some time before December rolls around and I have to adjust all over again.

Why do I like New Year's Day so much? Is it that feeling of newness and the ability to start over that's so attractive, even though this flip of the calendar seems so arbitrary? As a secular Jew with parents completely detached from their Jewish roots, I never recognized the Jewish New Year---and still don't, for the most part---but having a new year begin in September makes so much more sense for various reasons. Autumn is simply more notable as a time of beginnings and endings: the denouement of summer, the return to school, the sweaters coming out of the closet, a massive change in the landscape (if you live in a place with deciduous trees, that is).

That said, I have always embraced the secular New Year as something special, a day to be acknowledged and savored. While I am not one to make resolutions, per se, that feeling of turning a new leaf does lend itself to decisions and promises for the coming year. I am making some to myself today, but they will remain in the category of being "not for public consumption", a contract I make with myself, no witnesses (except perhaps for Mary) needed.

Bono once sang, "Nothing changes on New Year's Day". Externally, that's true, but the changes must be internal, not external. If one is to make conscious change, it is an internal process, unencumbered by, but not exclusive from, the outer environment and the people with whom one interacts within it.

Though nothing really outwardly changes---as the song laments---change is the only constant in the universe, and without it we are stagnant, without growth, without life. For those disposed to avoid uncertainty at all costs, the pain of change can be tumultuous at best. Keeping that in mind, I embrace and welcome change, for all the discomfort and excitement it can bring.

2006 offers 365 opportunities to embrace each day anew. Whether I am up to the task remains to be seen, and my failures and successes in that challenging arena will be more grist for that ever-grinding mill. (By the way, is that proverbial grist mill in any way related to the grindstone to which we often affix our noses?)
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