Craving the new is a natural part of being a novelty-seeking species. We love innovation, new albums, the latest book by a beloved author, a new season of a show we’ve followed for years.
As the new year begins, though, you shouldn’t forget about what’s been left behind. It’s useful to our next work to occasionally take stock of previous ones, especially unfinished stuff. Dig out old sketchbooks, unroll stored drawings and paintings, see what you like in them and what wasn’t working.
The road ahead can sometimes be better chosen by looking back at where you’ve been.
That should really be the thing to think about while so many of us celebrate renewal and rebirth of a regular cycle, but just to take it too blogsplainy far:
It’s only a trick of the calendar that allows us to think of an endpoint for a year. Sure, the Earth reaches the same point in its orbit around the Sun at this time, but it’s really a few days off the celestial extreme. What’s special about this one? We have three other possible extremes, two equinoxes and another solstice, as equal partners, if we’re being neutral. Historically, we’re matching the “rebirth” of the sun, nearly, but that’s from a prejudicial Northern Hemispherical perspective. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s their summer, their solar maximum.
Like any object in orbit, any point along Earth’s path—i.e., any calendar day, any moment on the clock—can be arbitrarily chosen and claimed as a starting point. If you’re alive, there’s always another chance to start again. We reach more or less the same point in orbit around the Sun, but we’re also traveling around the galactic core, at a new place in space than we were last year. And the Milky Way is itself moving, which makes every year a new point in space.
Make some New Year’s resolutions, get determined, become more disciplined, make more things. Our rituals are important and create meaning.
But remember that it’s always a brand new point along the curve, and you can always start again no matter the day.