I recently found myself being invited to celebrate the Jewish New Year, which continues to be a novelty for me as someone who until very recently could not tell you the difference between schvitzing and kvetching (and if you have not taken the module 1.0 in Yiddish expressions, they refer to sweating and complaining respectively). It was during this celebration that one of my friends turned to me and said, ‘welcome to 5779! A new year, new start… again’.
And this got me thinking, why are we so predisposed to consider a new year as an opportunity for a fresh start? Think about this for a moment, many people place huge emphasis on the great switch from 31st December to 1st January, all of a sudden feeling like a weight has been lifted, a new page turned, time to wake up to a new me. And then comes the tide of expectation, the dreaded New Year’s Resolutions: you will become a fitness guru, learn to speak Amharic, write your biography, climb Everest, send a letter to your grandmother every month… and on they go.
Of course, I applaud the idea of this new start, an opportunity to stop and reflect, but what I don’t understand is why we insist on concentrating it all in just one part of the year? Why not spread out your opportunities for reinvention throughout the year? There is nothing to say that at 4.30pm every Thursday you can’t stop what you’re doing, take a moment, and consider 4.31pm as the start of a new you. Of course, this may not be the most practical suggestion if you’re at work or in school, but the point is the best time to reflect and think about all those things you want to do differently is right now, in this moment. Time is never on our side, it will always win. So don’t wait until December 31st to look back on all the things you did or didn’t accomplish and think to yourself, ‘well there goes another year where I didn’t learn to figure skate’, do it now. Because remember, now is the only time we have.
Michael Stewart-Evans, alumnus UNU-Merit