With my birthday just a week and a half from New Year, winter is when I think about new beginnings, even this far out from Easter. Resurrection comes, for me, in December with questions like "You're one year older, feel any different?" and "Any new year's resolutions?" My answer, almost invariably, is no and none. There is a lot of emphasis on making these milestones count, on changing things, on turning a corner into "real life," the life I was meant to be living this whole time - a life of breathless productivity and endless joy. That's what we are hoping for, right? When we blow out the candles and make our one-year birthday wish; when we count down the seconds to midnight just one day out of the year?
I've always thought that the space of a week and a half between my birthday and the new year is when people buy their calendars. It is when prices are highest. Because of this my mom usually bought me calendars after the new year, when they all go on sale. Yearly calendars are deeply on sale by the third week of January. But all those years, I felt behind somehow getting a 12-month calendar of Edward Gorey sketches or puppies in hats on January 17. I was afraid that I'd lost those beginning weeks, forgetting of course the rest of the year. It was the start that mattered or seemed to matter, for a long time.
It is a running joke between my mom and me that the true way she can express her love for me is by buying me a full price calendar - which she has done for many years now. It felt somehow like she was handing me a future, a laminated promise, a life of order and balance where all the days look just the same. It seemed a way for her to pray for my life, to be in each day and breath I took. The calendar from my mom, like receiving recipes from my dad, seemed like her saying, "Live. Live well. Live enough for all us and fill these days with perfection." I would be diligent for a few months, marking off the days and making notations, but soon the calendar would be forgotten in April, locked in a lacquered photo of spring flowers. My real life would take over, and the days would be themselves, not boxes in a calendar.
I still love calendars. I am enamored with this visual passage of time. I celebrated the new year, and I number my days. And yet, I find the notion, the realization, that Jan 1st is just another day something of a comfort. Any day can be a new year. We can always begin again. We can count down the seconds to midnight every night. We can always be that excited about life, about change, about the future. Or we can live remembering that our bodies and minds are always our own, that the present-self is always connected to past and future, timeless. We can lead and be led by our own selves and be supported by the comfort of our lives as we know them. Though the earth revolves, we do not necessarily need personal revolution. The new year can just be another day, a day in which we try to live well, live the best we are able.
To begin arguably her most famous book, Gilead - a deeply spiritual novel about legacy and love and family and change - Marilynne Robinson writes, "I told you you might have a very different life from mine [...] and that would be a wonderful thing, there are many ways to live a good life." How ever you choose to live in this new year - whether by big declarations or day-by-day - I hope you live well, truly, and find whatever you are looking for.
And, whether your 2022 calendars are full price or from the bargain bin, know that each day is equally priceless.
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