Turning a New Leaf

With COVID on the scene, economic uncertainty, political turmoil, and social upheaval, 2020 has undoubtedly been an unusual and challenging year.  There has been widespread complaining about EVERYTHING-2020 from every sector of society, worldwide.

As is customary for me, this is the time when I turn the page on my calendar and begin to schedule various appointments, notable and due dates, as well as reminders for the upcoming year.  There’s a dose of hope associated with this endeavor.

Last year, I started a new tradition wherein I kept a jar on my desk with prepared little pieces of paper to write something good every week.  The contents of that jar will be perused on New Year’s Eve.  I will admit there were a couple of weeks when it was a stretch to think of something particularly good to record, but I managed.  Concomitantly, there were weeks when I had too much to write on such a small slip of paper.

Reading those pieces of paper will be a reminder that with all of the difficult and trying days, hardships, and challenges we faced throughout last year, there was at least something good mined from each week.  You’ve heard the 16th century phrase, “turn over a new leaf,” which refers to turning the pages of a book, made of parchment leaves; or more colloquially, looking forward to the changes that will come with what’s next.

I wonder if 2021 will be “a real page-turner,” the kind of year where we can’t wait to see what’s next?  I think about the pianist who requires another person to turn pages for her because there are so many notes on the page that she has no time to turn the page herself.

Then, there are some books that you hardly want to turn the page because you like this page so much you want to linger for a while and ponder, study, and absorb this material before you’re ready to move on.  It’s funny that on a calendar we can condense a whole 24-hour day onto a one-inch by one-inch square, and it’s enough for some days, not nearly enough for others.

So, it’s time to leave behind last year’s calendar, in a “what’s done is done,” fashion.  If you’re a visual learner like me, maybe you would find it helpful to visualize yourself leafing through the pages of the book of your life which was 2020.  As you leaf through, perhaps you’d like to mentally tear the pages out and sort them into piles.  For example, a pile for the difficult things, overcome, a pile for the unexpected blessings, and a pile for the lessons gleaned out of the throwaway pile.

I think there’s an art to forgiveness that transforms one from bitterness to fulfillment, from pain to peace.  There’s a fine line between learning the lesson from conflict and holding onto the pain of it. 

Some people find it easy to forgive wrongs done to them.  Others frankly can’t forgive, ever.  It seems to me there should be a happy medium, happy being the operative word because the lack of forgiveness damages your peace and contentment.  Some of us have to make a concerted effort to forgive especially when no apology is forthcoming.  Others let it roll off their backs.

Instead of carrying the whole tree trunk of 2020 on our backs into the new year, maybe we should consider letting go of 2020 leaf by leaf until we’re free to absorb the substance of the year without all of that bark weighing us down.  Let each of those leaves of your year have their effect, but then release them into the wind of tomorrow and next year, setting you free to experience what’s next.

I’ll conclude this missive with a sampling of lyrics from the 1962 Bob Dylan song, “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “How many years can some people exist – Before they’re allowed to be free? – How many times can a man turn his head – And pretend that he just doesn’t see? – The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind – The answer is blowin’ in the wind – How many times must a man look up – Before he can see the sky? – How many ears must one man have – Before he can hear people cry? – How many deaths will it take ‘til he knows – That too many people have died? – The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind – The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

May you be blessed with some windy days.  Happy New Year 2021.

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