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.