It's tempting isn't it to treat the "official" new year as a time to re-prioritize, re-direct our lives. The dominant cultural narrative is that after the excesses of the holiday season, we begin an ascetic new life as a more purified version of our "real selves"; a person who is always smarter, calmer, fitter, more prayerful, soulful, hopeful, learnéd than our current cookie-bloated wreck of humanity. How many of us start new workout routines, diets, diaries, BLOGS, attempt ONE MORE TIME to read Ulysses, or the Bible straight through, without skipping the "begats", or any other number of physical, mental or moral challenges set forth just because the calendar has slipped into another year?
The other day my darling younger daughter was talking, mostly to herself, in that unselfconscious monologue peculiar to street people and small children. She glanced up at our hand-written dry erase board calendar and said in a sad but calmly resigned voice, "Oh no! It's the end of the world." Sufficiently alarmed I looked up and saw her telling our dog, "That's it Delilah! We are out of numbers in a few days." She gestured languidly at the calendar and said in a sing-song, "Soon we will all be dead, even youuuuu, you'll be in doggie heaven" She patted the dog's head and said, "Don't worry! I'll fix it!" and in her kindergarten scrawl added a charmingly backward 14, 15, 16, 17 to the empty squares at the end of the board. (She had read the 31 as a 13) Looking back at our dog she said, "It's okay Delilah. I saved the world" and then wandered off to the living room, probably to build a nuclear reactor out of Legos and Barbie doll shoes.
I stood there, gob-smacked, is probably the best word? She had delineated for me the essential fallacy of the import of the changeover from December 31 to January 1. There are always more days! That's the very fact that defeats our best laid plans for a new diet, right? Chomping down on-sale early Valentine's candy in a doldrum of a winter afternoon, we despair of having "blown it" only a week or two into a our bright and shiny resolutions. What if instead, we acknowledge there are always more days, and some days require more candy than others. Tomorrow may well require grapefruit, or turkey pastrami, or miso broth and ginger ale, have confidence that you will know when you get there. Resolve to do your very best, always. But if you mess up, just write in some more days. You might save the world.