Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Not So Fast

Winter ushers in the calendar new year, at least in the northern hemisphere. We release the old year and welcome a fresh start. One of my favorite things about the new year is hanging up my new wall calendar. (Yes, I still use an old fashioned paper calendar.) Birthdays are circled, cabin weekends blocked off, appointments and plans and reminders noted.

There is a sense of excitement as the new year begins with a countdown and fireworks. We make resolutions, state aspirations, set intentions. We gear up to “do” – go to the gym, clean out the junk drawer, eat healthy, keep in touch, spend less screen time, spend less money, organize closets, get the car washed, meditate more, yell at the kids less, make the bed every morning, and in general do better and be better.

We are so eager to get started on this better life, but nature says not so fast. Winter is not a time of action. Winter is a time of stillness, of conserving rather than expending energy. Nature counsels us to pause, to watch, to wait, to listen.

Perhaps this is good advice on any new venture. Timing is everything, as the saying goes. Nature has her own timing, and we are wise to pay attention to it and align ourselves with it.

I used to think that our calendar new year was out of sync with nature. I thought perhaps the timing of the new year as winter begins might explain why the momentum of new year’s resolutions fizzles so fast. It seemed to me that a better time for the new year would be spring, the time of growth as new life bursts forth and the days lengthen beyond the nights.

But now I see the wisdom of quiet reflection at the beginning of something new. At the beginning of a race, the runners get in position and there is a moment of stillness before they are released to surge forward.

So as we begin this new year with excitement and anticipation, let’s take a deep breath and ground ourselves. And see what happens.

Note to readers in the southern hemisphere: I’m curious about your experience of ushering in the calendar new year with summer. I’ve lived in the seasonal disorientation (for me) of the tropics, but I’ve never lived through what would be for me the reverse of the calendar/seasonal connection in your part of the world. I’d love to hear about it from your perspective.

7 thoughts on “Not So Fast”

  1. Galen, the New Year for me actually starts with the arrival of Advent. That's when my daily Bible reading begins again, winter is just around the corner, but the remnants of fall, the fading season, are still present. Yes, it's the perfect time to stop, reflect, and grow quiet and still within as we enter this new cycle of worship. I don't want fireworks, I desire peace.
    Blessings, my friend!

  2. That's interesting, Martha. And of course Chinese New Year (and indeed new year in other parts of Asia) begins later than the calendar new year. How perfect that Advent is a time of waiting, waiting for birth. Someone told me once that winter is when the earth is pregnant, such a beautiful metaphor.

  3. I wonder if that is why animals tend to lose weight over the winter. Their food supplies are limited, or they are hibernating and living off the their stored fat. This is another way we seem to be out of sync with natural cycles. "Food" for thought!

  4. Interesting! Yes, we seem to hibernate and gain weight! But more seriously I think people put themselves under too much pressure at the beginning of this calendar new year. I have to admit I can find it irksome, as if they must be right to be doing this energetic motivating naming of goals as it is so widespread…and yet it just doesn't work for me. I have to admonish myself to just go with my own flow at this time of year,whenever I think of this list in my head that I had ready to get going with in the new year just like a form of social prgramming. So, I agree nature is indeed saying 'not so fast' – a perfect title for your post, Galen!

  5. Thanks, Lynne. Funny because after posting this, I ended up cleaning out a closet that has been jumbled for years — a new year type of project for sure. However, I didn't plan it or set it as a goal. I was trying to find something for my grandson and ended up pulling everything out of the closet till I found what I was looking for. Then it was a question of leaving everything out on the floor, or putting it back in some sort of organized fashion. It didn't feel like an obligation then, I got it done fast, and surprise — something accomplished quite by accident! So I think I will let my accomplishments do just that — surprise me after the fact!

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