New Year: Endings and Beginnings

Christmas is two days past. The holiday season is winding down. I hope yours has been full of love and joy and some silliness. Mine has been all that and rich with family and friends.

Today I am in recovery mode from all the hustle and bustle. Mostly a balm of peace and quiet. The littlest tiniest bit of letdown as I break down the gift boxes for the recycling truck. And as the holidays are ending, my thoughts turn toward the beginning of a new year.

For me, this has always been a time of both optimism and dread. Endings and beginnings are like that.

When I was in school, the new year was the beginning of a new semester. This meant new classes, new subject matters, no track record in these particular courses. If I’d had a bad previous semester, the chance to wipe the slate clean was a gift. But often, I was anxious and tired at the thought of starting something new. I remember lying in bed the night before the restart of school, listening to the harsh wind whipping through the trees, wanting to stay wrapped in my warm blankets for the foreseeable future.

Those first nights of the new year, I often stayed awake for a long time. I tried on images of happy possibilities. I felt periodic rushes of anticipation of becoming a better version of my old self. I also wallowed in memories of the recent holiday’s good times. Relived a highlight reel from the semester just finished. As I finally drifted off to sleep, I felt the inexorable and somehow comforting pull of cycles.

Now I am a parent. My children are all about to embark upon a new semester. They are also about to scatter far away from Chicago to their various homes.

I know I will spend the first nights of the new year thinking about my work. I have just handed off to my publisher my latest book. It is time to begin discerning a new topic to write about. To start anew. I will think about the many endings and beginnings past. Schools. Homes. Friends. Workplaces.

The weather is warmer here than usual. But a strong wind has started up today. I will listen to the rustling of the trees outside my window. And burrow into my blankets. But I will also remember that the harshness of the winter will give way to the soft green of spring, then the hot pavements of summer, then the crisp colors of fall, then another winter. Small cycles wrapped into larger cycles wrapped within the ultimate cycle that spans my life. All full of promise waiting to unfold.

Happy New Year!

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