It’s New Year’s Day, a chance to start fresh, throw off not-so-helpful habits, do those things we always meant to do, but somehow life and inertia get in the way. I try not to make serious resolutions, but I do reset my intentions knowing that I will sometimes slip up. By the end of January, if not by the end of the first day of January, I have found some way to be less than perfect—i.e. human. Today I had the square of chocolate I planned to allow myself after dinner, and then, before I could shove the temptation out of sight in the cupboard, I had a square of a different chocolate bar, since I knew that a side-by-side comparison would prove to be highly useful—to someone, somewhere, sometime.
Fortunately there’s another New Year that begins in February, which I can celebrate by eating healthy vegetarian Chinese food.
Lent is the next opportunity for self-reformation. I don’t bother with diet and exercise for this one; Lent is meant for heavy duty reformation of the soul. Last year I gave up unnecessary worry so that I could worry every time I caught myself worrying.
In March I can adopt the Persian New Year, Nowruz, which falls on the first day of spring. In Chaucer’s time that was considered the beginning of the year, which is why his pilgrims started out for Canterbury in “that aprill with his shoures soote.” April is an excellent time for a spring retreat or a pilgrimage.
June begins a new season with new priorities and schedules. Many of my regular commitments end, so of course I should have time to concentrate on things shoved aside. Every summer I usually plan a few weeks at the cabin so that I can hike every day and finish that novel I keep meaning to write. Unfortunately the best things to do at the cabin are reading, sleeping, and zoning out by the creek.
September is the start of the academic year, a new beginning for many activities, and another change in routine. One year I adopted the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, since the last 12 months had been pretty shitty and I couldn’t wait for January.
The Roman Catholic liturgical year begins with the first day of Advent, usually at the end of November.
If all those opportunities for a fresh start aren’t enough, consider that the Romans designated the first day of every month as the Kalends; once a month people got a special day to celebrate a new beginning.
But even wiser than the Romans is Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, who marveled: “Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
Happy New Year—today, tomorrow, and every day.