The transition between the old year and the new is a time long recognized for both looking back at what has passed and forward to what might become. January is appropriately named for the Roman god Janus, the two-faced god who simultaneously looked both to the past and to the future. It is a time when we often reflect on what was or might have been and what may yet become.
Looking to the past should be more than an exercise in reminiscences. It is also a time to reflect on things we did well and those where there is room for growth and change. A serious self-assessment is essential to our development as well functioning people and something anyone who seeks to be both competent and thoughtful will wish to undertake.
The beginning of the year is also a time for looking to the future. That is the stuff of dreams. It’s an opportunity to elevate to consciousness our aspirations, about things that might be possible, if only.
“You can get what you want or you can just get old.”Billy Joel
There is much to be valued in dreaming. Dreaming need not be mere idling away the time in pointless escapism. It can, instead, be a well-used exercise, a source of enrichment, a creator of opportunities, of inspiration, of fresh ideas and new pathways. All too often, though, we neglect and abandon the objects of our desires. When we do so, our neglect comes at a cost that is often high. We miss opportunities we might have seized. We may resign ourselves to living in a rut. In extreme instances, we may fall into depression. Unfortunately, we easily find all sorts of reasons not to pursue our dreams.
“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”Albert Einstein
In my life, I’ve chosen to follow some dreams while neglecting others. On the positive side, I’ve followed my passion for photography, made a once-in-a-lifetime African Safari, and indulged my need to express myself in words, among other things.
But there have been failures as well. Despite my love of music, I never studied the piano sufficiently to learn to play. And though I am enchanted by the sound of uilleann (Irish) pipes, I feared to take up this difficult instrument and ran away from it.
What explains my failure to follow my dreams? A fear of failure is part of it. Resisting the work needed to succeed is another part. And the judgment that I do not merit success lies beneath them.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve always imagined.”Henry David Thoreau
But now, 2021 beckons. Sure, the Covid pandemic will be a major factor constraining us in the coming year. But still, many opportunities remain. So, for 2021, I am planning to follow my dreams as far as they will lead me. Here are some I intend to pursue. I will seriously explore learning to play the uilleann pipes. I will work toward publishing a coffee table book of my photography of local fences. I will contribute to public service by serving on the RRCS board. I will enhance my skills in photo editing by studying the methods of the masters. And, to balance these fresh opportunities, I will make a thorough assessment of my successes and failures during 2020.
How about you? What do you feel you did well in 2020 and where does your room for growth lie? And what dreams to you plan to pursue in 2021? I’d love to hear from you about them.