The early weeks of the New Year seem blanketed in a hushed focus. It feels like a very serious time where all the frivolity of the holidays is behind us and now it is time to get back to business.
The problem with this plan is that I often feel like I am spinning my wheels this time of year and I can’t quite put my finger on why that is the case. Last night, as I was reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler aloud to my kids, I stumbled upon the answer in the following passage:
Claudia said, “But, Mrs. Frankweiler, you should want to learn one new thing every day. We did even at the museum.”
“No,” I answered, “I don’t agree with that. I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside you. If you never take that time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It’s hollow.”
This is the time of year where intense focus and progress toward goals trumps other activities. I think the contrast of the festive holidays with the seriousness of the new year is just a little discordant.
I like exciting anticipation better than pounding the pavement. I like inspired action better than nose to the grindstone. I like letting the new year swell up inside me better than taking the bull by the horns.
I love the grace inherent in the idea that it is a new year but we brought ourselves, full of the wisdom of past years, with us over the threshold. I want to remember to honor what I have already learned, on days when productivity just feels a little too much like a serious business.