Every week about this time I sit down at my desk, look at the blank screen and ponder, but then I type out a word or two because the deadline for the newspaper submission looms on the horizon. Sometimes I think I know which direction the words will flow, other times I am surprised. Always I am limited by word count, as it relates to column inches, the English language, accepted rules of grammar and good taste. I do, however, have some freedom with subject and style.
Every year at this time, with some reluctance, I say good-bye to the current year and anticipate the arrival of the new one. I am sensitive to the passage of time, so when a year comes to a close it shakes me up a bit.
The coming year will bring anniversaries and changes. In less than a month my grandson will celebrate his first birthday, this spring I will mark thirty years in my current profession, and sometime during the year all of my friends and family members will become a year older (the good Lord willing). Faster and faster it goes, where it stops nobody knows.
But with a new year we get a clean calendar. We all like a second chance, a fresh start, and a new year offers that. Throughout the year those chances of a new beginning come often.
When the problems of the day overshadow us, we are reminded that things will look better in the morning. Monday (or Sunday) marks the beginning of a new week; the first of every month marks time, while offering opportunity and hope. When we start over we naturally want to start at the beginning. We don’t usually start our diets, a new exercise regimen or a big new adventure on a Thursday (unless that Thursday falls on the first of January, the giant among days beginning new chapters).
A new year offers us the opportunity to create a new story, begin a new theme or start the revising process of the current one. We can’t go back and rewrite the past; we can’t actually disregard last year as if it never happened. We can only repair and build, but the future is wide open. Of course, there are some limitations. Instead of a word count, we are limited by our days. We get a year of Tuesdays and Saturdays, five in the mornings and three in the afternoons, and January and June.
Naturally, there will be some of the same characters (both major and minor) from the previous year, but don’t be surprised if a new character is written into your life. I suspect some of the previous plots and themes will continue, but now would be a good time to plan for a twist or turn to improve the story line.
It is said that every good story has a conflict and resolution. Although I have rarely shied away from a conflict, I can recommend minimizing them and seeking resolution early on, for unresolved problems are not buried at the grave. Unhappy days between friends and family members quickly become weeks and months and years. I suggest striving for the happy ending.
So as this dog-eared and worn year comes to an end, I start looking for ways to make next year even better. My desk sits in front of an east facing window, and once in a while between sentences, I will look out that window and imagine I can see tomorrow just beyond the horizon.