Making Meaning on New Year's Day
The first rule of blogging is to have something worthwhile to say.
The second rule of blogging is to do it frequently.
I'm just going to leave that there. I am sure you understand the conundrum.
Now would be the perfect moment to quip about how the third rule of blogging is not to talk about blogging, but not only is it an overused joke but, also, I can't really talk about it...
Where does it start? Do you have something vitally important which must be communicated, driving you to write? Or do you write and somehow, as the words tumble out, the meaning evolves? Does it have to mean anything at all?
The sky is a bright blue, the kind of bright that can only happen on a cold, winter day in New England. The clouds are a white, puffy child's drawing come to life, joyfully colored in bright markers and poster paints. Except that these cheerful floating marshmallows are racing across the sky, pushed through the shocking blue by a wind that can be seen in the graceful waving of bare branches and heard, whistling and roaring, even through the closed living room windows.
And I sit here, coffee in hand, curled on an overstuffed sage sofa with a fuzzy purple blanket, listening to the wind mingled with a touch of traffic in the distance and the indistinct hum of my neighbor's guitar. It is January 1, 2021 and I am sure that there is meaning here.
Today is the day when people across the world come together in a visioning ritual, reflecting on the past and looking to the future with resolutions backed by hope and imagination, fueled by the promise of a clean slate and creative energy channeled towards the start of something new. Even those who scoff at the ritual, who tell you that it's just a day with no more or less meaning than any other, inadvertently participate in it with their vehement protestations.
They are the ones who are right, of course. It is a day like any other day. January 1st is, absolutely, an arbitrary marking of the passage of time.
It is a completely meaningless, arbitrary marking of the passage of time.
Isn't that wonderful?
Because it means that on any day of the year, at any moment, you can wake up and say, "today I begin a new story". It does not have to be on January 1st. In fact, it can't be forced into this one ritualized day. Every day, every moment, is a new story and we get to decide what we write. If we don't like what we wrote just now, we write something new in the next moment. We don't have to wait until next January 1st. Our slate is always clean and we resolve, reinvent, re-imagine with each moment. If we decide not to decide, that too is a decision with it's own creative power. We create with or without intention, in every moment.
And I am sure there is meaning here.
Ritual is powerful. There is meaning in our arbitrarily chosen New Year's Day, because so many people use this ritualized marking of the passage of time to remember, just for a moment, their creative power. We remember and we reflect. We remember and we resolve. And if we forget throughout the year that we have an eternally blank slate upon which to create, then this ritual of reflection and resolutions will remind us again when it, arbitrarily, returns.
I have created this impossibly bright blue winter day with the sun turning bare branches into hauntingly beautiful silhouettes, dancing in a roaring wind safely outside my windows. I have created this through the power of my attention. I could have just as easily created a cozy dining room shrouded in thick velvety curtains and glowing in the combination of electric fairy lights and vanilla scented candles, listening to the sounds of classical piano as I sip chamomile tea and chat with a friend about his dreams for the New Year. And, maybe I will. When I have had my fill of sunshine and windsong, perhaps I will trade it for candlelight and classical music. Or perhaps I will trade it for loud disco music in the kitchen, some sweet dance moves, the chopping of vegetables, the smell of home cooking and the bright overhead lights illuminating the photos of friends hanging on the steel refrigerator.
But not yet.
In this string of moments, I am content with the sound of the wind and distant traffic, the sparkling white clouds, the bare branches stark against the brightest of blue skies, and my wordless resolutions.
And I am sure there is meaning here.