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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Yup. It’s a new year, a new document, a new day. Same old me. Although not quite. They say you never step in the same river twice.

So as cliché as it may sound, my word for the day is: new.

I percolated on quite a few options, from the random (Pez) to the meaningful (rebirth) to the cousin words (change, renew, do-over, which yes, I’m counting as one word because the hyphen is glue).

But in the end, new just stuck. Nothing changed when the clock went from 11:59pm to 12:00am, just like nothing changed when the clock did that every day for the past 365 days… and the past 52 years… and the past endless millenia.

Except a new year always seems so new and shiny in those first few minutes and days. All the things you did in the past year somehow get washed away. All the extra calories, all the unwritten thank you notes, all the missed deadlines, all the bad Amazon purchasing decisions because it’s been two years of a pandemic and really, don’t you deserve a new kitchen sink mat?

There is a feeling of hope and starting over that you didn’t have one second ago.

So yes, for me there is something wonderful about starting new. Being new. Feeling new.

New chances to be a better person. New days to watch the clouds. New cocktails to try and new bad Amazon purchasing decisions to make.

Of course, there is always the opportunity to do something REALLY new, like skydiving, or closing the browser when that cute owl mug pops up on Amazon. But today, for the purpose of my word reflection, I’d rather think about how old things feel new because somehow a single second tick-over flips a brain switch that sparks thoughts of new.

And the reality is, I actually am new in this moment. And so is the sun in the sky and the dust on my treadmill. Maybe only at a minute, atomic level, but guess what? I’m new again right now. And now.

Thinking about how changeable and impermanent everything is, is actually a comforting thought. It means that no, I can’t stand here on this beach forever, but yes, this horrible period of work stress is going to end.

Every seven to ten years, every cell in your body is replaced. So right now, literally none of us are the same person we were when I started that sentence. How cool is it to think that there is always a chance to be new? And sometimes all you need is the single tick of a second to remind you.

Today I’m starting this new project. And I put together a new habit journal to help me deal with the extra calories and unwritten thank you notes. I started a new Peloton challenge. I looked up at the new sun and the new clouds that I’ve never seen exactly like that before. I walked a new mile. I bought new vegetables. I entered a new second.

And now that I’ve waxed poetic I can get real with myself. It’s funny how I talk like me-me differently than when I’m being purposeful-me. Maybe that is a chance for future reflection. I want to be authentic in what I say, but somehow it always feels like there’s me-me and there’s purposeful-me.

So what would I have said to me-me if I hadn’t been writing this for my word project?

I would still have stuck to the word new. It kept turning up in my brain this morning, over and over and over. I’m not much of a New Year’s Eve person because what, I’m going to sit on the couch and watch the second tick over? Back in the day when I had a big-ass family who used to get together and party and play music and pop streamers and champagne, then New Year’s Eve was a big deal. It always involved pigs in blankets and loud noisemakers like horns and rattles and tambourines. All the grown ups would get drunk, all the kids would run around, my uncle once drank champagne out of a shoe after it had spilled there, my grandfather, with tears in his eyes, would tell everyone he loved us so so so so so so so much, after which we would hug him and pour him another bourbon, which my grandmother always had a fit about because he already had too much.

Then someone would start the countdown to the countdown and yell that it was a half hour to the new year, and it was twenty minutes until the new year, and by ten minutes to the new year the ruckus was hushed and shushed so all 578923856 of us could stand around the TV and watch the ball in Times Square ten… nine… eight… all the way to

HAPPY NEW YEAR! And whoever’s living room we were in would explode just like it did on TV, with streamers and yelling and music and hugging. And suddenly everything was NEW.

It didn’t matter that you were just clawing your cousin’s cheek in a fight, or that someone lost their job last year. It didn’t matter who you were mad at or who you’d be mad at later. There was just the new and the shiny.

I guess that feeling of new lasted for a day or two. It wears off quicker than you can learn to write a new year on your checks. But every year it happens, and every year there are new promises and new resolutions and new plans and new ideas.

“New” doesn’t promise “good” but we translate it that way anyway. Nobody thinks “I’m going to get a new job and it’s going to be THE WORST EVER! And I’m going to be totally stressed!”

New job, shiny job. At least for a day or two.

Last night, Ralph and I spent New Year’s Eve setting up our habit journals and our Peloton challenges, getting ready for new. We had a cocktail, read a bit, and inadvertently stayed up late enough for me to say, “Oh! Happy New Year!” And Ralph said the same, and then we both put on our Apple watches and did a lap around the bedroom to get the first new stand counter for the year.

These days, that’s the perfect New Year’s Eve for me. It’s a far cry from screaming tambourines, but it still comes every year with the promise of something new, and I still love the feeling the same. Or maybe I love it in a whole new way.

So as long as I’m still in the honeymoon phase with this new year, I’m going to focus on new things and new feelings and newness and possibility.

Everything I said earlier was also true, if not a bit more melodramatic. I like to start “new” every month, every Monday, every morning. And I like knowing that the world around me is new, if only I can stop and look at it that way.

Photo: battery powered lights inside repurposed candle jars from Paddywax.