We're one week into a new year. One week of international tensions, national events and local news, not to mention what has taken place in each of our lives in just a handful of days. I continued to say "Happy New Year" up until the last day or so but now I'm wondering exactly how much of it feels very new.
Sadly, for too many, what is currently taking place is similar to what was occurring before the holiday season began. Many, many people continue to fight wildfires and watch all they've built up be lost in moments. Countless people remain in hospitals fighting illness, or coping at home with the changes that disease brings. With barely a hiccup in coverage, the political stories carry on as they did before.
Rather than much being uniquely new and different, it would seem more accurate to express a greeting of 'to be continued' even though that seems somewhat discouraging as opposed to the feeling of excitement and anticipation that 'new' might bring.
At its foundation though, 'to be continued' is likely an apt descriptor. After January 1 we continued with school or work or the events that fill our days; we continued to be part of friendships and relationships; we continued to serve on committees or work on projects; continued reading the book we had started or the series we were watching, and on it goes.
Maybe that's why the idea of a new year can be appealing. Perhaps the job, relationship or project weren't going quite the way we wanted. A new year, then, represents a fresh beginning; an opportunity to press a re-start button and fix what is broken or adjust what needs to be changed. The new year can be a filter for approaching things a bit differently; for grasping hold of the potential; and for embracing the hope and optimism that things can indeed be made…new.
Thinking back over the past year, certain events rise to remembrance immediately, others become part of the "oh, I had forgotten about that" conversation. Some stories loomed large while others faded quickly. In my own life I made mistakes. I have some regrets. There were things I had hoped to do which didn't get completed. I was hurt and no doubt I hurt others. But I also accomplished things I hadn't anticipated and got to experience special moments I hadn't necessarily planned for when 2019 rolled out.
This is precisely what puts the happy in new year, but also the hopeful, as we recognize that much of it does indeed fall in the to be continued category. It’s the reason we can reminisce. It means there are people around with a shared storehouse of memories. It's the reason we can put events and stories into proper perspective and ensure what we focus on is what matters most. And it's the reason that no matter how arbitrary it may be, as a new year rolls around it can provide a sense of new possibilities and uncompromised optimism.
There will be challenging things in store, too. Just think about the past year. Perhaps there are those who were with you at the start of the new year who are no longer part of your life whether by death or discord. There were difficult events you are ready to put firmly in the past. Health concerns or job worries may have impacted the year. But even with all that, there is likely a great deal that can be reviewed with a full measure of gratitude.
So as we move through 2020, much will fall into the 'to be continued' category and that is a good thing. It means that what surrounded us at the eve of the new year carried on the following morning. So we can continue to count on the friends in our lives and the people in our families. We can keep hopes and dreams kindled. We can take steps into what will come, knowing that we carry with us all that has been.
It's all the things that continue that will help us deal with what this new year may actually bring. That's reason enough to smile while sweeping up the confetti. That's my outlook.