Another new year is about to roll in – time for a fresh start, resolutions and promises, leaving the past behind, beginning again, a tabula rasa. New Year’s holds the promise of change, of potential; an opportunity to wash away the old – our foibles and failures – and build something new.
Or does it?
New Year’s 2012 – it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We were still on a high from celebrating our son’s bar mitzvah. Our pride in him soared, our time shared with loving family and friends treasured. With the insanity of preparations and planning behind us, an event pulled off without a hitch, we had oodles of photos, beautiful memories, and a few bills left to pay. As God said in Genesis, “and it was good.”
We were nearly able to shake off the dark cloud of my then-recent metastatic diagnosis, which had arrived a mere two months before the bar mitzvah. We had learned to live with the possibility that I would live. My body had adjusted to the meds (but not before I had to fit into the dress, thank goodness!) and life had steadied itself, if a bit more precariously than before.
New Year’s 2012 was a year to move forward. Roller Coaster 2011 was behind us.
As eager as I was for a change of luck, or of pace, or whatever, I have since come to embrace the randomness that is January 1. It’s not the only “new year” – and not even the first one. The Jewish calendar, which coincides much more closely to the academic calendar and guides much of my life, imbues what seems to be a random day in the fall as the “new year.” It is neither random (existing on a fixed date on the Jewish lunar-esque calendar), nor is it the only new year Jews celebrate. As it happens, January 1 is a somewhat arbitrary date established by the Romans back in 45 BCE. In the Middle Ages, Europe decided it was a pagan holiday and did away with New Year’s Day as a celebration. It came back to us again on the Gregorian (modern) calendar, and there it remains. For now….
Despite how tempting it is, I know all too well the pitfalls of leaving one difficult year behind in favor of a new beginning. As much as I hoped for a ever-improved 2013, I got instead an incredible set of challenges on so many fronts – a painful year for Zach, John’s stroke, some progression for me…. But the truth is, today is a GREAT day! Zach is off on an incredible adventure in China, John and I are enjoying the sun of Palm Springs. Best to embrace today for all it offer, than to wish for ever more in 2014.
This year I’m borrowing a page from AA, where the program is that I just can’t have that drink, or take drugs, or overeat, or smoke TODAY. Tomorrow I can do any and all of those things if I choose. just not today. Here’s the hitch – tomorrow it’s going to be “today” all over again. And so it goes, one day at a time. Best of all, each day is born with new potential, ripe with possibilities. Even if yesterday sucked, I don’t need to wait for some arbitrary marker of “new” to turn it all around.
And while I’m not an addict, I still only get one day at a time…
My wish for you is a joyous and full tomorrow, that it be blessed with health, love and peace. So, too, the next tomorrow, and the one after that.