On new starts
There’s a lot to be said for new starts; for blank pages and clean slates; the satisfaction of knowing our unburdened potential stretches out before our feet and the troubles of yesterday are behind us. It feels good. The start of a new year feels good. You can feel the pulse of excitement as we enter our next chapter; the air feels different and the promise of the future looks a little brighter.
And yet, as strongly as we believe it, we doubt it. We have every past new year to prove that nothing really changes. “I don’t do new year’s resolutions”, people cry dismissively.
Why is the beginning of a new year relevant to so many cultures? What is it about being human that makes this significant?
Well, humans are storytellers.
Not just to other people; not just novelists and poets. We are all storytellers and it’s the only way we know how to manoeuvre the complexities of our world. You have told yourself a story about who you are and why that is; about who I am and why the world is the way it is. Stories are how we have always communicated; how we share information, teach lessons and provide explanations. Stories are the context we provide when the threat of meaninglessness rears its head. Stories are important and, moreover, have been important to the success of our species.
A new year feels like a new chapter.
A birthday feels like a new chapter.
A major life event feels like a new chapter.
To a species for whom stories are integral, this is no surprise and certainly not something that we should deny ourselves. To enjoy the hope a new year can bring is not naive or foolish. The new year doesn’t come with a magic spell or a pill to swallow; but it is an opportunity to reflect on the past chapter and consider how you want the next one to unfold. Like a good storyteller does.