As a writer, it’s easy for me to imagine each New Year as a blank piece of paper awaiting my inspiration. But when you think about it, that metaphor actually works for everyone. Every year we all have the potential to start over with a story—our personal story for sure—and any other story we want to create. And because this year is 2017, you may be already creating a year filled with all sort of drama and possibility. Or, it’s also likely that this year will just be a carbon-copy of last year. As usual, the choice is up to us.
Of course, the only people who are a pure blank are babies born on January 1, or someone with a brain condition like amnesia. The rest of us, have our mental bags packed and ready to move into the New Year long before the ball drops in Times Square. On one hand, it is very beneficial that we don’t have to relearn how to walk, talk or tie our shoes every time the planet rotates around the sun. The problem comes when we live out each year like the movie Ground Hog Day—living each day from sunrise to sunset exactly like the day before. Face it; if something isn’t working in your life, leave it in the past. Or as the saying goes, “If you find you’re riding a dead horse, it’s time to dismount.”
On the flip side, if something adds to the value of your life then feel free to bring it into the New Year. Just remember that even if something is good, there may be things you can do that can make it even better. For example, I have an absolutely great relationship with my husband Thom. For obvious reasons I want that to continue indefinitely into my future. But as everyone in a committed relationship knows, even the best can become stale if there aren’t new and interesting elements introduced on a regular basis. In fact, it’s likely that our relationship is so great because we constantly add new inspiration. During this month alone, we’ve signed up to take a photography class, a mindfulness workshop and maybe start yoga again.
Nearly twenty years ago I read a book entitled An Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. At the time, I wanted to be a better writer and more creative. A practice Julia suggests was what she calls “morning pages.” Simply put, morning pages are three pages of longhand writing that are “strictly steam-of-consciousness.” What they end up being over the course of the long haul is a meditation practice that is a path to a strong and clear sense of self. While the idea of them may not make much sense, they do create something over the course of doing them that is indescribably important. I have been doing them for nearly two decades now. It took a while, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind now that I am both a writer and ultimately creative.
Every January 1st I gather up my morning pages from the previous year and put them away. Then I place fresh clean white ruled paper into a new three-ring binder along with a new pen—and I start again. This act of symbolism reminds me that the pages and the stories that will be created this year will be as new and fresh as I make them—even though the vessel I’m using looks pretty much the same. We’re all doing something very similar. We might go to the same job and love the same people, but it is up to us whether we will create something new. 2012. What’s it going to be this year?
“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” –Edith Lovejoy Pierce
“Life is just a blank slate, what matters most is what you write on it”. –Christine Frankland