I have been extremely fortunate that for the past five years, every January 1st between 2011 and 2015, I have woken up in the home of much-loved Chicago friends to this view: sunrise over Lake Michigan. I’ve seen several years onmy own, I’ve watched it with a man I’d leave six months later, and I’ve even shared it with my current partner who I’ll be marrying six months from now.
This year I watched the changing shades of the sky alone, feeling a bit under the weather due to asthma but grateful as always for the past night’s company and the glory of the view, the small space of quiet in such a massive city save for the soft whistle of tea I’d set to boiling some minutes prior. My friends slept, while I gave myself a brief bit of time to contemplate how marvelously different things will be next year: one of my friends is due to have her first child tomorrow, is ready to meet him any day. I will be married and halfway through my counseling program. 365 days of change and growth and hard work and celebration.
Yet this time for me has never felt like a true ending and beginning. January 1st marks the changing of the Gregorian calendar year, but it’s more of a check point, really. I think of video games, where you’ve made it roughly half way through the level and whew, there’s the little flag to pull, the barrel to burst, which means you don’t have to push through all of this again, you’ve made it far enough that there’s no going back to the start if something awful happens, you’ve got a safety net of sorts.
That’s my January 1st. Growing up, it was school that established this sensation for me, and my first career path as an academic maintained it. The year began anew in late August: new classes, new teachers, new friends, new obligations. It ended in June, and then there was this wibbly-wobbly summer bit that felt like something akin to Van Gennep’s description of the liminal, where I was neither in one year or the next, but somehow both, recovering and progressing simultaneously.
That Kemetic beliefs regarding conceptualizations of the year fell in line with this perception was a happy accident. Of course the New Year shifts over in early August, by the Kemetic Orthodox calendar I use! Intercalary days, out of time and out of synch with the year before or the year to come, they too took very little mental adjustment. One mental envisioning of time slid neatly within and so reinforced the other.
But what then is to be done spiritually at the “check point,” the secular New Year, the point between semesters, the date that’s just under half way to the next Wep Ronpet? I might suggest that it’s a good time to take a good look at what you’ve made it through this far, acknowledge in some way that you’ve accomplished much, and simultaneously recognize that there’s no going back.
No one can take away what you’ve achieved in this span of time. Even if the actions you took were not perhaps what you originally set out to complete, you can’t be sent back to who or where you were five or six months ago, for better or worse. You’ve learned something, progressed in some way, so why not take the time to acknowledge it. Maybe even reshape the goals you set when you started this year. Remind yourself of what you wanted to do with your spiritual practice this past August. Does the new you standing at this January checkpoint have a different perspective on things now? Maybe an adjusted view on how to achieve those original goals, or a realization that perhaps the goals themselves look completely different from this angle?
Riding back to Pittsburgh, away from the state that holds so many of my loved ones, away from the state that is home to my temple at Tawy House, I feel like I’m being physically drawn away from my personal January New Years’ check point. But the past ten days have given me a lot of time to think. I’ve had time to recognize what is changing, what I’ve done to enable that change, and how I can continue to worship and learn from my gods as I walk forward with the flow of time into the second half of my spiritual year. Armed with the knowledge granted by reflection, I look forward to the adventure.
There’s no turning back, just making what I will of whatever is to come.
May your own stops at the 2015 check point prove insightful, and your adventures magnificent.