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Seaborn: Formula for a happy new year

Posted: January 10, 2018 - 1:20am

"But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before...."

-The Apostle Paul, Philippians 3:13

The calendar, it seems to me, is not a linear timepiece at all, but a circle. If it weren't circular, there would be something between the end of one year and the beginning of the next, some kind of physical or spacial interval, like moving our eyes back to the beginning of a song in order to sing another verse. We may place symbols of the new year throughout the house and write new dates on our checks, but if we were to sleep through the cacophony of New Year's Eve, the next morning would feel no different to us than the day and year before.

Yes, periods of time - pregnancy, a school year, or the countdown to an anticipated event - may be linear. Their time comes, or ends, and we turn to the next page in our lives. But since not all experiences are happy ones, and not all endings longed for, this page-turning can sometimes be a greater cause for sorrow than for joy.

For example, my friend's position in a local company had ended and he was moving to a new job in another state. The new challenge was a step up the professional ladder for him and he faced it with excitement, but he was facing it alone. His wife and child had chosen not to accompany him to the new address.

"I'd rather be hung than leave here without my family," he said. Sadly, the break-up was irreversible and he had no choice but to go alone. Remembering a similar anguish when my marriage ended, I shared with him the words someone else had given to me at the time: "Make the least of that which goes, and the most of that which comes."

Easy advice to give I know, but difficult to receive. The regrets, remorse over mistakes made or steps not taken, and the eternal wish for just one more chance to "do it over," make it difficult for us to let go and look forward to that new thing in our lives, no matter how challenging or exciting it promises to be.

New Year's resolutions are usually made in jest, but the practice is universal. That the new things we promise to do in the future will be better than the things we did or didn't do before, makes me believe that everyone, whether terminated, divorced, or graduating to something new, carries a lot of baggage from one year or one part of our lives to the next. Speaking from experience, that's not the most wonderful way to celebrate a new anything.

Thankfully, it's been a long time since I've felt the anguish my friend was experiencing, but there are still some things "that go" which I need to release in order to make the most of the things "that come" to me in 2018: the wrong decisions I've made, the people I forgot about or didn't take time to call, the writing prize I didn't win, the advice I gave that others didn't follow, the savings account that never grew, and more.

But the things "that come" fill a long list, too: growing relationships among my family and associates, new writing assignments, and continued involvements with people and positions I immensely enjoy.

Back to my analogy of a circle: Time, life, and experiences, like the hands of a clock, don't go backward to pick up the unprofitable hours, linger on regrettable moments to punish us even more, or create an interval when hope and opportunity cease. They just keep going forward, framing "that which comes," the only part of life we can still do something about.

 

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