T.S. Eliot writes April is the cruelest month or so he laments in The Waste Land, but I'd have to go with January. After the festive chaos of the holidays and ringing in the New Year, January arrives with a bleak, reverberating silence.
Friends and relatives have returned to their winter hibernation. The holiday sweets and food you have gorged yourself on now weighs down your butt and loads you up with guilt. You're then confronted with those pesky resolutions you made while ringing in the New Year. You're going to lose weight (that lasts about a month or so). You resolve to understand your in-laws (that last about a week). And of course, you will finish all those projects that you've procrastinated on forever. (You jot a 'note to self' to start tomorrow).
A recent study showed that 22% of people gave up their resolutions in the first week. By March, more than half of the rest of the resoluters fell off the bandwagon. It makes one empathize with those glib folks (my husband included) who proclaim their resolution is to not make any more resolutions.
I may not carry out all my resolutions, which often are a 'ditto' of the prior year, but each time I make them, I feel as if I'm given a chance to turn a page and write a new outline for the year. January may arrive in a bleak follow up to December's brighter festivities, but it also heralds in a new year and with that, comes new beginnings.
The month was named after Janus, the mythical god of beginnings. Perhaps last year, things didn't work out the way I wanted. I might have gotten another rejection on my latest submission, or I might not have finished my work in progress, or I might have shied away from pitching my novel at a writer's conference. With such setbacks, I'm ready to climb into my cave and hibernate for the rest of the year --or plead along with Green Day to Wake Me Up When September Ends or, in my case, next year.
But during January, we can pack away last year's failures and start anew. Yesterday's disappointments sail into history, for with the New Year, comes hope. We are given a clean slate and a second chance to achieve our goals, either through small resolutions or bigger steps. For all the gift giving in December, January's gift of a new beginning is most special.
So as January comes to a close and we move into February, we must grasp onto this gift and as Thoreau says, "go confidently in the direction of your dreams." For if you don't try, you won't succeed. Or as the queen of romance says:
"If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place."
- Nora Roberts