The New Year is nearly upon us and I find myself reflecting about the past, like I always do this time of year. Only this year I looked back a little further. With a new decade dawning, I mused poignantly about where I was ten years ago, and all that has transpired since then.
So much has happened, and the years have flown by. In the New Year of 2010 my boys were 8, 13 and 16. Parenthood seemed joyfully everlasting as the days, months and years seemingly crept by with endless after-school activities, parent-teacher conferences, sports and scout meetings.
I also saw so many mountains looming large before me, of which I thought I’d never reach the summit. Paying off the house. Raising our children. Building a successful career. A bachelor’s degree. Most of which are completed and in the past now. Proof that if you keep pressing on, you will succeed.
In 2010 my father was still alive. This past decade was dotted with the loss of those we have loved and the burning ache and hurt left within. We cling to old photos, nostalgic memories, and the love they left behind. It’s all we have until the next realm and we hold fast knowing that our losses are only temporary.
Much good had happened throughout the past decade, and typical of life, plenty of bad. Unfortunately, like many people, I tend to focus on the bad, foolishly allowing it to weigh me down, make me bitter and jaded. Positive thinking sometimes comes hard, like trying to make progress when you are sunk deep and trying to walk through mud. It’s hard to lift your feet and make the next step. But I am a stubborn one.
Many of us joyfully look forward to a new year with anticipation, while others can’t wait to grievously shed the past and move on. Either way, there is something about the New Year that brings renewal, and refreshment. It’s a reset, another attempt to move beyond and shed those flaws, habits, and burdens that plague us. It’s a revitalizing new shot at making ourselves better. It’s when we quit and give up that we begin to decay.
And I wonder where we’ll be 10 years from now.
Some people disregard the fresh start offered to them each year, but I embrace it, do you? If we refuse to begin again, to start over, it would be difficult to overcome our challenges, or our short comings. The past is there for us to learn from, and not to weigh us down any longer, if we’ll let it.
I am reminded of a poet today, as we look to 2020.
Walt Whitman published the following poem in 1891 and to me, this poem is as timeless and applicable now, as it was then. When we start to become cynical, remember instead that we have a purpose.
O Me! O Life!
BY WALT WHITMAN
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
My friends, may you shed the regrets of the past, and look back tenderly at the many pleasant memories… and may the verse you contribute in 2020 and beyond, be richly meaningful, soul satisfying, and blessed.