There is something magical about the start of a new year. Christmas and the hustle and bustle of Yuletide parties have been replaced by a time to reflect upon the year that has ended and an optimism for the year now underway.
Some of us opted to do our reflecting amid champagne toasts and balloons at midnight on New Year’s Eve as bands and DJs played “Auld Lang Syne.” Others chose to stay close to home, surrounded by family and friends and watch the ball drop in Times Square from the comfort of a living room. Either way, this time of year is a time of unfettered hope, optimism and excitement.
Think about how much your life has changed since this time last year. Some changes have been good. Others have been difficult. But each event is part of your life story that grows like a tree, sprouting branches that lead to new adventures. And no matter how much the wind blows or the grounds shake, the limbs stay strong, the tree does not fall.
For many of us, had someone told us a year ago how our lives would have changed over the course of 12 short months, we would not have believed them. Be the changes good or bad, we would have tried to step in and control them. We are human. That is what we do. Rather than try to predict the future, we instead must rely on faith that good will happen more often than bad, and that if we must face challenges, we will be armed with the love, support and courage to survive the dark days in order to see the light.
That’s why it is fitting that the new year begins in the winter for us. Days are short; nights are long. Coldness surrounds us almost every day, and the warmth of the summer sun on our faces seems so distant. But like the mighty rhododendrons that shake off the snow and cold of the beautiful West Virginia winter and stand tall again each spring, we know that the move from 2013 to 2014 brings new opportunities to grow and flourish.
This is a time for new attitudes – about ourselves and others – and endless potential. Some people make resolutions, setting personal goals to lose weight, quit smoking or get out of debt. Others pledge to spend more time with family, give back to their community or simply engage in additional random acts of kindness. Either way, it’s all about trying to be better. No one decides this is the year they will be more selfish, less friendly or alienate loved ones. We all want to be the best person we can be. We want to live long, happy, healthy lives. We want to make a difference.
That’s why the new year is special. It’s not just about the big celebrations. It’s about taking a moment to reflect on all that is good and right within us, figuring out how we can make ourselves better and embracing that optimism to make a lasting difference.
Last year was great in so many ways, and this year will be even better. Happy New Year and may you and your family have a blessed 2014.