New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. Have you made any resolutions for 2023? Perhaps you want to read more books, or run a 5K, or master baking the perfect loaf. Perhaps your resolutions are less about doing and more about growing: you resolve to be more giving next year, more compassionate, calmer.
There is something so appealing about the thought of a new beginning, a chance to start over. On the last stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, there is the sense of magic in the air, the wonderful potential for transformation. Then when we awake on New Year’s Day all is fresh and new, like a snow-covered landscape with not a single footprint upon it. It is the ultimate new beginning.
My novel The Echoes of Love opens on New Year’s Eve, in Venice, Italy, at a masquerade party, just as the clock strikes midnight. The heroine, Venetia, has no idea that the man she meets will be The One. I write:
Thus does Fate cast her thunderbolts into our lives, letting them fall with a feather-like touch, dulling our senses to the storm they would cause should we realize their devastating powers.
Without even realising it, Venetia has entered a new beginning; nothing will be as it was again. Navigating this change, this new relationship, will take courage – but then as Vincent Van Gogh said, ‘What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?’
New Year’s Day is imbued with symbolism, but of course we need not wait until then to start over. Buddha said, ‘No matter how hard the past is, you can always begin again.’ Each sunrise gives us the opportunity for a new beginning.
Beginnings can be dreadfully hard, though. Fear of failure can hold us back. I love this conversation between Laurie and Jo in the classic book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott:
‘Don’t talk that way, turn over a new leaf and begin again, Teddy, my son.’
‘I keep turning over new leaves, and spoiling them, as I used to spoil my copybooks, and I make so many beginnings there never will be an end,’ he said dolefully.
It is too easy to think that because a beginning has not worked out in the past, a new beginning now won’t do so either. The pile of books you intended to read is still teetering. You didn’t run a 5K so much as stagger slowly around a park. Your loaf of bread always turns out hard and dry. You tried to be more giving, more compassionate, calmer, but you realised time and again that you are a fallible human being.
But why should ‘failure’ be an obstacle? As the actress Mary Pickford said, ‘You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.’
Beginning again is part of life; it’s what we do. We strive, always, to move forwards, to gain experience and wisdom. Seneca wrote: ‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.’ We begin, and then we begin again, and that is how we learn.
How exciting to think of all the beginnings ahead of us, of all we’ll see and feel and come to understand.
For me, there is a beginning on the horizon that I know will bring me great pleasure: I shall start writing another novel. I know that will be hard work, and exhausting in a sense, but it will also be exhilarating and absorbing and deeply fulfilling. Eventually, I will reach ‘The End’ and there will be a sadness that the journey has reached its conclusion, but then, on the horizon… another new beginning, another book. The joy of being a writer.
What new beginnings are in store for you, dear reader? I wish you a very Happy New Year, filled with opportunities to start afresh.
Picture credits: 1) Darren Baker/Shutterstock; 2) Nokuro/Shutterstock.