Everything I know about mythology would fit on the head of a pin with room left over for everything I know about quantum physics, astronomy, and curling. (Except bicep curling. I’ve got that!)The one mythological god I know a teensy bit about is Janus, the god of beginnings, change, and transitions. Usually depicted with two faces–one looking forward, one looking back–Janus earned the god-job of ringing in the new year as a punishment for ratting out his half-brother to the enemy to save his own skin (see: two-faced). As a god, he was immortal; but he only got to do one thing…over and over and over.
I guess having a whole month named after him was small consolation for Janus, considering that it’s one of the most miserable, weather-wise, in all of the northern hemisphere. Not to mention, that about half of the American population resolves to change something drastic about their lives in January, which sometimes translates to more misery. Poor Janus.
But time heals, apparently, because as the years passed, Janus came to represent all beginnings and not just the new year. That’s no easy job, because as we well know, beginnings can be hard. And they’re sometimes made even harder because we don’t have Janus’s ability to look both backward and forward at the same time.
Reflection is a good thing, especially to savor past successes or identify wrong turns taken. But if taken too far, “looking back” can lead to circular thinking–trying to relive past successes or cycle through regrets and recriminations. Like Janus, we can be stuck doing the same thing over and over and over. And, of course, be we, I mean me.
“If you’re looking backward while trying to move forward, you’re likely to fall at some point.” Me, October 2011
For me, the transition to January and the new year is a great time to look back at the past year–the good, the bad, the in between–and identify what I want to continue doing and what I want to change. In doing that, I use past lessons as a guide, not a road map. One of the greatest lessons I learned when I started this healthier living quest was that I wouldn’t do it perfectly. That I would have doubts. That I would complicate things. That I would over-think and over-analyze. That I would learn. That I would succeed.
“She understands now what she, in all her worry, had forgotten. That even as she hesitates and wavers, even as she thinks too much and moves too cautiously, she doesn’t always have to get it right. It’s okay to look back, even as you move forward.”
― Jennifer E. Smith, The Comeback Season
And that’s how I’m starting this new year–moving forward, always, but with the help of lessons learned to ease the way.
Happy New Year to all, and may we all have our Best Year Ever!