Well, it is the New Year. 2011 is here. Resolutions have been made, attempted and possibly even abandoned by now. So do you feel all new and raring to go, or do you still feel like you'd like to crawl back under the duvet and sleep till spring?
For me, January 1st isn't the real new year, whatever my calender says. The time-clock within me knows that this is just an artificial arrangement. How can you have a sense of renewal, of new life, of starting again, whilst the trees are still bare, the sky a leaden grey and the sun can barely make it into the sky? To put it bluntly, how can you turn over a new leaf when there are no new leaves to be seen?
As a child we all knew the real new year was the beginning of September. The summer holidays had faded and gone, we were back at school, dressed up in our smart new uniform, and were in a new class, a new year, older and wiser and infinitely more grown up. Oh the feeling of hope and anticipation when we neatly copied our names on to the covers of those brand new exercise books and opened them to that clean, white, unblemished first page. What an opportunity to start again, and what resolutions we made, only varying slightly as we progressed through the educational system. This year I will write neatly and keep my book nice. This year I will keep all my pencils sharpened. This year I will learn my times tables. This year I will not leave my homework till the last minute. This year I will start my revision early. This year I will copy up my lecture notes straight away whilst I can still understand them...
Now, September does still have a sense of the new year about it, if only vicariously. But for me, my real year follows that of Mother Nature. Winter is the old age of the year - not without its pleasures, maybe even sweeter because of the pains - but often feeling like it is dragging its heels, reluctant to let go. It seems like there will never be warmth or sunshine again.
Then one day we draw the curtains and the sun is shining shyly at us. When we step outside the air is still crisp, but with a hint of warmth and encouragement on the gentle breeze. We look around and notice pale green buds appearing on the trees, stab of white, yellow and purple flowers dotting the ground, birds singing. People start to lift their heads and smile at one another. We cast off hats and gloves and scarves and feel the sun on our skin again. We take a deep breath and feel how good it is to be alive and to see the spring once more. And then, then we feel hope returning and can start to recognise all the possibilities that life offers us, the things we might do.
So for now I am hunkering down and working my way through the winter, counting the weeks until that sunny day when my new year will really truly start.