The Ghosts of New Years Past

I wonder why the New Year doesn’t begin in spring.  It would seem so much more fitting, or so I used to believe.


Outside my window stand barren trees.  It looks cold, even here in the deep south.  The sun is coming up, and all the strength it can muster is not enough to push away the chill in the air.  And it is so quiet this time of year.  The lull between happy laughter of Christmas and the raucous celebration of the new year.  It is almost funereal. But that, that is age talking. And I know it. When I was younger, and life was not limited, I rushed headlong into the new year. It was another year of school done. Another unsolved mystery, another challenge, just another year.

There’s a cold mist hanging in the morning air.  Within it I can see the ghosts of my past year drifting silently past this icy pane of glass. Drifting by as quietly as this year, whispering into nothingness.  A panoramic reflection of another year playing against the silver screen of wintry desolation. The haunting phantoms of things not accomplished. Of errors made. Of failures and disappointments.

Now that life isn’t so cheap, I tend to look at things through a different lens. The roads that pass beneath my feet aren’t so easily forgotten. The highway markers rushing by with the audible ticking of a clock. Once, I’d live forever. Now, I’ve outlived friends. Family. colleagues. They’re out there too. Those ghosts haunt me too.  In that mist.  Watching.  That’s a weight I carry too, Can’t disappoint, can we?  I realize I tend to give them voice.  The disappointment is mine, I’m sure.  I’d really know what they do think, now that they are on the outside looking in.  I bet I’d be surprised.  I bet I’d be amazed.

I bet they know a lot I don’t. I wonder if they feel like I do right now. I don’t think so. I’ve no way of knowing. I just don’t think so. I imagine it is a lot easier to see things. On that side.

I bet somewhere out there, they’re smiling.  As they did when I was a child.  Those times they taught me things. Seeing that I was on the verge of figuring out the solution to some perplexing adolescent issue.  That supportive smile when they realize you’re on the cusp of realization.  I do it to my children, when I lead them logically, step by step, to a conclusion.


Symbolically, January 1st is a new beginning. Realistically, it is a fresh start. Some will argue that every day is. Standing here, though, in the quiet bliss of a winter morning, I realize now why the New Year begins in the frosty grip of the barren winters. The world is wiped clean of color, the slate has been cleared once more. What I write upon it will be of my choosing. Last year is written and today I will turn the last page in that volume of my life. Volume 2012. I’ll close the book and slide it upon the shelf where, inevitably, some of the lessons learned will be lost as it gathers dust as I begin a new volume.

As I walk outside and stretch my hand forth, I begin to etch this new story into the ethereal parchment of this frosty mist. I’ll plant the seeds of what this year might become, and then I will watch. Soon, spring will come, and these seeds I plant will burst forth from the winter hardened soil. Color will once more spring forth upon the canvas of life.

It is in the darkness we best see the light. It is in the ugliness that we can best witness beauty. It is in ending that we can best see a new beginning. This year wasn’t the greatest, but I’ll count it a win. I tenuous victory perhaps, but I will count it one nonetheless.

As the sun rises higher, the mists retreat into the trees. The ghosts? They’re still here. They always will be. But I think they’re smiling.

Photo credit: ecstaticist / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: blmiers2 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

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