The only reason January 1 is special is that the whole world, by convention, makes it special. Seasons and solstices are real, objective occurrences. Calendars are fictions of human imagination. Useful, powerful fictions, but fictions. (Like religion, law, nationality, race, and money.) Therefore they are what humans agree en masse that they are.
So, January 1 is a day of new beginning because we all -- and unless the nay-sayers can create a more powerful fiction to replace it, they are swept up by it, too -- we all say it is.
Any day can be a day to start something new, to resolve upon a new course, to change direction. Seth Godin often says that the best day to start something is now, whenever now happens to be. And he's right. People start new things every day.
That said, Daniel Pink, in his book When?, found that starting something new on significant days tends to lend the new thing a higher degree of energy and resolve. That additional energy and resolve, while not a guarantee of long-term success, tends to increase the odds in favor.
New Years Day is one of those major "significant" days, for many perhaps the most significant, among many others: a new month, a birthday, an anniversary whether of a positive event like a wedding or a negative one like the loss of someone significant, any holiday, a solstice or equinox.
As I look back, I know I've spent many a New Years Eve in quiet thanks that the year past was over. Somewhere along the line, I must have inherited a Puritan tendency to look at things from the standpoint that assumes my own absolute depravity. This past year, 2019, has felt particularly fallow, even though I know that I accomplished a good deal on several fronts.
Arriving at this new year, I am allowing myself a cautious optimism. The world is in an awful shambles -- Australia in flames, petty dictators and would-be dictators showing each other their missile sizes, Nazis on the rise in New York City and around the world, lock-down drills at school. If now isn't the time to resolve on making some improvements, when? The best day to start something is now. And since now happens to be January 1, so much the better!
Therefore, I resolve:
- To keep house better. Cleaning up the world starts by cleaning up at home.
- To start reading again.
- To write more, and publish more of what I write.
- To be more careful about my health, and the health of those around me.
- To finish more of what I start. (I tend to start a lot of things and then abandon them for the next shiny idea to come along.)
- To take stands, especially when and where idiocy is prevelent.
- To watch for and celebrate the good.
For you and yours, I wish a Happy New Year!