“As it somehow always manages before the winter solstice, but never after, the early darkness was cheerful and promising, even for those who had nothing.” – Mark Helprin, Winter’s Tale
I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions.
This has less to do with failure to enact my past resolutions (though the failures are many) and more to do with how I don’t buy January as a time for renewal.
No, if there’s a time that my body, mind and spirit anticipate the possibility of transformation and rebirth, it’s at the outset of autumn. Maybe this habit began during my school days (long-gone but somehow never forgotten) or perhaps it’s because I enjoy the erratic, transitional seasons of fall and spring more than I do the more stalwart seasons of summer and winter. Or maybe it’s just that the beginning of a new calendar year always feels like a let-down, an anti-climax.
January, therefore, is always a difficult month. The excitement for the darkest night of the year and those many holidays (however compromised by consumerism they may well be) are disappeared as if they never were. Family and friends have returned to their lives. There’s nothing left to do but get back to work, literally, figuratively, and all those other commitment-oriented ‘lys’.
Moreover, the level of relaxation that I’m able to seep into this time of year is exponentially (and inspiringly) sloth-like, so bringing myself back to a place where I resemble a sentient being who can function in public around other humans can feel impossible.
Yes, January is typically a non-month, one of those times of the year that I only recognize when it’s over. “Oh, hey, it’s February. What happened to January?”
So, to completely contradict myself, I’m resolving to pay more attention to this January, to this darkest heart of the winter season when fading light is indeed extinguished and the spring is so far away.
I’m going to sit with this, I’m going to feel this, and I’m going to be present. Welcome January. Stay awhile.