2011: Starting Anew, Changing Times

A sage old newspaperman named Bill Vaughan once wrote: “Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year‘s Eve, and Middle Age is when you’re forced to.”

Yet I am somewhat conflicted about this coming turn of the calendar from 2010 to 2011.

On one hand, I am looking forward to getting together with some loved ones, staying up late, toasting the New Year and planting a big fat kiss on my beloved.

On the other hand, I’m not looking forward to cleaning up the house in the morning after, deal with crabby children who didn’t get their usual allotment of rest, and squinting through Saturday with a headache due to an overindulgence of holiday cheer.

I guess that puts me with a foot in both camps. While I am hardly to the point of true “middle age,” I am also far from being a dewy-eyed youth.

The anticipation of something “new” is also filled with possibility is tempered by the experience of knowing that each year is filled with many of the same constants.

I will still have to go to work on Monday morning and I will likely remain the same snarky blowhard on January 1st that I was on December 31st.

But hope remains.

Like many of you, I have a few “resolutions” for this coming year that I will strive to achieve.

Some that I have heard ’round the office or from friends include losing weight, quitting smoking, or just to slow down and spend more time with family.

Of course, we can resolve to amend or upend behaviors and habits at any point of time, but there’s something about the New Year that gives it an added incentive. The promise of a New Year is one of “do overs” of fresh starts and new beginnings.

The month of January itself was so named for the Roman god Janus, the pagan deity of endings and beginnings who was usually shown with two faces, one facing each direction.

Looking ahead to 2011, we would be wise to look back to 2010 to see what we accomplished and what we could have done better.

After all, learning from past mistakes is the best way to prevent them from becoming future mistakes.

Even as the cynic in me would yet carp about how clichéd this tradition, insofar as it often little more than a punchline, I would yet encourage you to take this day seriously. The impulse behind a resolution is one of rare critical self-examination in our narcissistic and self-deluded culture.

Instead of smoothing the rough edges and gazing lovingly at ourselves through a soft focus lens, we make the assessment that we have some significant room for improvement.

For those who have long minimized how out-of-shape they have become, or how smoking one pack-a-day has become several, or how they have been working later and later into the night: New Year’s Day affords you the opportunity and maybe even the added motivation to get back on track or even, if need be, reverse course.

I have a friend whose last day of work is this Friday and, on Monday, will be starting 2011 with a new career in a new city. Not only that, but the nature of his work has many life-changing implications.

“This feels like the first day of the rest of my life,” he told me, and so it is. In fact, every day is the first day of the rest of your life. Except, of course, for one…  the day you die.

Bono, lead singer for the world famous rock band U2 once sang, “Nothing changes on New Year’s Day,” and I believe his point is a complex, if a bit cynical, one.

Loathe as many of us are to mend and change our ways, I would encourage you to seize this opportunity of a stark and honest self-assessment. Take a good hard look at your life, the way you are living it, and the impact you making.

Resolve to break self-destructive habits, and seek opportunities to aide or serve others. Set lofty goals that force you to grow as a person, not simply in your appearance or basic physiological health, but as a human being.

Make a change for the better this New Year, and for the betterment of others around you.

Make this New Year’s Day mean something more than just another date on a calendar.

Some that I have heard ’round the office or from friends include losing weight, quitting smoking, or just to slow down and spend more time with family.

Of course, we can resolve to amend or upend behaviors and habits at any point of time, but there’s something about the New Year that gives it an added incentive. The promise of a New Year is one of “do overs” of fresh starts and new beginnings.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s