We are but mere days into the New Year…noticed anything drastically different yet? Probably not. The haze of the hangover from the Christmas holiday – metaphorical, if not entirely literal – is slowly lifting, with normality arriving with a sharp kick as soon as the day is out (perhaps to the relief of some). It’s only then, when the balloons have been popped and the party streamers cleared away, that you really have to face up to the reality of a fresh start. But just what will that involve? Curtailing a few vices, changing appearances, cutting loose from old ties (that’s if you’re really brave)…or maybe your ‘fresh start’ will only extend as far putting a new calendar up on the wall.
Even if you’re not the type to make any firm resolutions – if only because you’re fairly sure you’ll break them within a short space of time – the first month of the year provides the perfect time to look towards the future with both eyes. We all have a habit, especially as the year turns, of thinking about our flaws, mistakes or misgivings; focusing on the past, or even present, where we have felt unfulfilled or disappointed by ourselves in some way rather than embracing the uncertainty but also the opportunity for change that lies ahead. No wonder so many resolutions end up broken and intentions go unacted upon when such thinking only places us further in a rut. Instead of thinking about what could have been in 2010, we can all focus upon what will be in 2011 – whatever it is.
In the spirit of all things new and as yet unchartered, here’s to thinking ahead rather than back with a suitably future-focused poem by the typically introspective and philosophical Elizabeth Barrett Browning. There really could be few better lines to enter into a New Year with than the last four lines of this poem, which give us the impetus to be daring and hopeful for a future as yet unwritten.
My Future Will Not Copy Fair My Past
‘My future will not copy fair my past’ –
I wrote that once; and thinking at my side
My ministering life-angel justified
The word by his appealing look upcast
To the white throne of God, I turned at last,
And there, instead, saw thee, not unallied
To angels in thy soul! Then I, long tried
By natural ills, received the comfort fast,
While budding, at thy sight, my pilgrim’s staff
Gave out green leaves with morning dews impearled.
I seek no copy now of life’s first half:
Leave here the pages with long musing curled,
And write me new my future’s epigraph,
New angel mine, unhoped for in the world!
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)