Not the same old thing

“That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

At this time of year most of us have been asked (many times) “what are you doing New Year’s Eve / Day?” It is not unusual to hear the response, “Oh nothing special, it is just another day for me.”

Actually in some senses this is perfectly true. Breaking time down into hours, days, weeks, months, and years is a purely arbitrary custom. There is no inherent difference between December 31, 2015 and January 1, 2016. The New Year is simply an extension of one’s life experience with nothing actually changing as the clock strikes midnight. This fact is demonstrated by the many diverse calendars observed throughout the world. The New Year begins at different times in different places.

Yes, there are some differences caused by the change, such as the renewal of deductibles, starting tax liability all over again, etc. But these also are entirely arbitrary, done for convenience rather than necessitated by some fundamental natural law.

Having noted that, I must admit that I am one who enjoys the change of the New Year and believe it is valuable to my growth and improvement. Things facilitated by the marking of the change of calendars include:

A New Start:  We all make mistakes. We all have regrets – some larger than others. It is enabling to be able to turn a page, forget the blots on the previous one, and begin again to try to do better.

Goals and Resolutions: Though it is possible to set goals without a “time stamp” on them, most experts urge one to date goals. Don’t just say “I am going to lose some weight.” Rather state, “I plan to lose 25 pounds by June 30.” Such goals increase incentive and accountability and provide for progress reports.

Focus:  I travel in areas where people don’t customarily possess watches, calendars or other means of keeping current. They typically show vagueness with regard to many aspects of life. Remembering to write on a check “2016” rather than “2015” helps me be motivated to keep up and stay current in other areas as well. Time can easily slip up on us, causing us to miss opportunities and neglect obligations. It is essential to keep one’s focus.

Urgency: The previous point leads to one final important characteristic. Life is short and it contains many urgent essentials. Time passes all too quickly. Changing the calendar reminds us that another year has passed. With it, in all likelihood have gone some things we should have done, but did not. As an anonymous wise man once stated, “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

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