January the First

photo of some prawn heads, a fork and an empty cup on a white plate. Words "january the first" and CP blog address

New Year's Day is important

European traditions give us an historic framework for dealing with the New Year, such as the nomenclature of months and seasons. Not for nothing is January named for the Greek goddess Janus who had two faces – one looking backwards, the other into the future. 

Here in Australia we are bombarded with the symbolism of a mid-winter end-of-year, even as we suffer 40 degree heat-waves and sub-tropical flooding.  Even as we surf our way to the new year,  we recognise the cycles that describe time passing: 
Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer Autumn…
Night, day, night, day…
Morning, afternoon, evening, night, morning, afternoon…

It’s like breathing

Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…
Certain yogic breathing techniques have us noting, then pausing, at the top of the in-breathe, resulting in a more deliberate out-breathe. So too the pause at the top of the year gives us a moment to consider the out-breathe of the year to come. The year will happen if we don’t pause, just as breathing happens, unintentionally.
We can choose to make it intentional. 

If we don't create a moment of pause...

If we don’t plan for that week running around in togs and sarongs (if that’s your thing), bare-foot across the bindi-eyes and the tar-hot road to the beach; hair still damp from this morning’s swim, skin still salt-water-taut; the promise of fresh schoolies, or kingies if we’re feeling flush; sun-touched, weather-warmed, mango-ed; with the imperative of a sweet afternoon nap imminent…

If we don’t take January 1st, and put it properly into our calendar, next year will be upon us. Then gone. Then into the next. A mad rush of inevitability where yesterday, today and tomorrow are all the same. Suddenly we’ve turned fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, without even realising it, and no-one believes, not even us, that we aren’t the same person we were back then – coconut-oiled, string bikini-ed, driving that green Morris Minor places  Alec Issigonis could never have envisioned. Driving still, in the middle aged women’s equivalent, with as much derring-do and only a bit more sense. Forty summers on, we still need those few days break from the rest of the year, before our world becomes the longest run-on sentence yet – a life sentence, if you will: too many words and not enough of the sort of punctuation that gives us a moment to take a breathe. 

We need to find time to rest, in between the busy times

To take a moment to look back, and plan forward. 
To start the year’s cycle again, refreshed, a little more prepared for whatever fresh hell this year has in store. 
That’s why we take a breath and make intentions. Not to achieve a specific thing, but to slow down enough so that things, considered, can happen for us. 

Even, perhaps especially, if we aren’t sure what those things might look like.

"Catching beach worms at sunset." 2021 watercolour on sketchbook pages.
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