Saturday, January 15, 2011

Looking Forward and Looking Back

It's probably no surprise that I approach the idea of a new year a little differently than the world at large.  It seems like the pattern is supposed to be something like this:

1.  Enter December.
2. Spend most of the month hung up on Christmas
3. Shop, eat, party, repeat
4. Around December 27, notice that the year is almost over
5. Spend a few days looking back over the year that's ending
6. Stay up late to eat and party some more on December 31
7. Dash off a couple of resolutions you have no intention of keeping
8. Carry on as normal

It's like our looking back has to be all wrapped up well before the ball starts dropping and our looking forward is an insincere little ritual.  The reality is, though, that time doesn't settle into little compartments.  The years flow into one another, and the only distinction between them are the arbitrary page breaks on our calendars.  The events from the past year keep on rolling and reverberating into the current one for sometime to come.  We may only want to spend a few days looking back, but life is a continual process of retrospection in order to renew and move forward.  I don't think our little quickie end of the year procedures do it justice.

I'll freely admit that, for me, some of this comes from the fact that I never seem to have my shit together at the end of the year enough to do my processing when everyone else does.  But, I also seem to need more time to really sort through things than other folks do.  Not sure why that is, but I do have a tendency to over-think things to death.  Given that, it takes me a little longer to transition from one year to the next, especially after a year like this last one.

The month of January is named for Janus, the Roman god of doorways.  When you pass through a doorway, you move into a new room, but can still see and access the room you left.  For this reason, Janus is depicted as having two faces, one looking forward and the other looking back.  It's an image that is actually pretty meaningful for me.

If Janus is the symbol for the month, then--to me, at least--the whole month ought to be about looking forward and looking back.  Or, at least, more than just a day or two.  Not that everyone ought to sit around and navel-gaze for four weeks, but somehow, in between the blither and blather of daily life, we ought to spend more time thinking about where we want to go over the next 300-plus days than the few minutes it takes to babble out a standard resolution about losing weight or stopping smoking.

When I journaled, it was usually somewhere around the fifteenth or the twentieth of January before I felt ready to approach the topic of the new year, particularly when it came to goals and ambitions.  I've not really dealt with the topic much in the blog, because by the time I'm ready to do it, everyone else has moved on to other things.

But the 2010-2011 transfer is different for me.  I've never had a year like this last one and it's still echoing through my life.  I need to bring some sort of closure to it--no matter how limited--for my own sake.  I also need to throw out ll these dreams and ideas I have for the upcoming months, just to get them out of my head.  If I don't write them down somewhere, then I don't have any way of checking back later to see how well I did with them.

So, next week is going to be about finally starting to lay the ghosts of 2010 to rest.  I think there'll be about three or four posts worth of stuff for that.  After that, I'm going to finish inviting the new spirits of 2011 in with another couple of posts about my hopes for this year.

C'mon Janus, let's get this party started.  Happy 2011, y'all.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

Here's a little secret, Eddie: most of us DON'T have our act together in the way you think we do. We just fake it better.

Certainly, with a significant death that you experienced in 2010, you have the need, even the right to navel-gaze, and I don't mean that term pejoratively at all.

In fact, this very piece - your great videos notwithstanding - is the kind of post that makes me want to come back.