Small, instant new year

I started a new year today. I know it may sound early to you, given that the calendar tells us the new year doesn’t begin for a couple of days yet. But I decided not to wait this year. Not this year, or the next or the next. Calendars are nice for planning and other practical matters, but on the subject of new beginnings, I have decided that I find them woefully inadequate, and I’m going to give them up for Lent. What’s that you say? Lent doesn’t being for months yet? Too bad.

You see, more and more I find this parsing of the days and weeks, and the labeling of them into months and seasons wholly inadequate. It comes up when i try to fit the weeks of Dutch, my wife’s, pregnancy into months. She’s about 25 weeks along, but since some months have four weeks and some have four and a half and end up spilling across parts of six weeks, I’m not quite sure how many months that comes to. It comes up again when the seasons won’t cooperate with their designated names. December on the prairie is supposed to mean snow (we have none on the ground now) and cold (today’s high will reach into the upper 40s F and tomorrow will be 56). Last summer’s heat ran into October, more or less. Spring seems to arrive just about whenever it feels like it. So outside of taxes and school calendars, I’m finding that I don’t have much use for calendars anymore.

How about this? How about we start the new year now, today? Not even wait until midnight. Not even wait until the hour or the half hour or the quarter of the hour. How about that thing–you know what it is–that we have been putting off for some Special Beginning, some Momentous Turn of the Calendar, why don’t we just start doing it now? We can, you know. We can just start the work of being what we know we want to be right now, in some small but immediate way. Look, it’s not going to happen overnight anyway. We won’t be any more ready on 1 January than we are at whatever moment you are reading these words.

No matter when we begin, it’s going to take a long, slow slog, and a series of small moves with plenty of backsliding and mistakes and disappointments from which we will have to recover and rededicate ourselves. And that will be okay, because the day–the moment–after the mistake, we can start a new year then too. We can make a New Year’s Day at any time, at any moment we want one. Why not start with this one?

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