My year begins four times every 365 days, therefore, I have four chances to get it right. It restarted six days ago, complete with reflection and resolutions. The four of us wrote out the high and low points of our year and sealed the pages into an envelope to open and reflect upon next January 1st when we do it all over again.
It is strange to have the year restart in the middle of winter (well, our winter, Southern Hemispherers) when everything is dead outside. The landscape right now is brown and white, muddy and icy. It doesn’t feel like a natural restart in the same way, let’s say, spring feels like a good time to restart. But perhaps it’s only because I always have babies on the mind.
I was a student for 21 years overlapping with being a teacher for nine. So for 27 years, my year mentally began around Labour Day and ended soon after Memorial Day, with those intervening months feeling like a ravine of time that I fell into between school years. I still prefer calendars where the first page is September instead of January. I can’t mentally plan out 2014, but I can plan out the 2013-to-2014 school year.
There were a few years between when teaching ended and the twins began school, and even though no one in the house was tied to that typical educational calendar, I still found myself thinking in terms of September to June. Is it so deeply ingrained in me that I’ll still be thinking that way in my sixties, when the twins are out of college, or will this restart fade away by the time the loans are paid off? Will summer always feel like a valley, a dip in the year, between two plateaus of time?
My spiritual restart falls between September and October when the Jewish calendar year comes to an end and begins again with Rosh HaShanah — which literally translates to “head of the year.” It aligns closely with that educational calendar, a second vote for an autumal start.
I guess I’ve always wondered about religions that don’t have a spiritual reset; a day on the calendar where you reflect on the past year. I mean, yes, there is the secular January 1st, but that isn’t really the same thing. There isn’t ritual associated with January 1st unless you count congregating in Time Square (or watching people congregate in Time Square on television). It isn’t a time period where people ask for forgiveness or try to atone for their wrong-doings. Rosh HaShanah isn’t a big party — we have that a few weeks later with Simchat Torah. It’s an introspective, quiet time, punctuated by services and familial meals.
I didn’t appreciate it much when I was younger. I do now.
My year mentally resets on my birthday, when I add another number to my age. I am turning 40 this year. I keep having dreams where I realize I’m 40. (And in all of my dreams, I start calling out hokey things such as “good lordy, I’m 40!” Perhaps my subconscious has to release these sayings so I don’t call them out in the real world.) I’m okay with aging in my dreams, but when I’m awake, I’m not so great with accepting the fact that I’ll be in a new decade. Not that I want the alternative.
My thirties have been great. I’m sure my forties will be too, but I remember being little and 40 sounding so old. 40 is middle aged. Spalding Gray called it the Bermuda Triangle of Health, where your body starts to break down. I don’t want my body to break down or change. Being 40 isn’t cool. There was a television show called Thirtysomething. There was never a show called Fortysomething.
I have a fear of being less vital, less needed. Everyone wants to know their place, and being needed is about knowing your place, knowing where you should be. In my thirties, I knew exactly where I was needed. The forties look a lot more amorphous.
But that year doesn’t restart for a few months.
What are your yearly restarts?