A New Year’s visit with Suprima from Nepal reminded me that New Year’s celebrations on our planet mark the start of the year in different seasons for some cultural groups. It is not always, in every corner of the world, the January 1st of the Gregorian calendar that we follow in the U.S. As Suprima said, it is not even 2015 in some nations, but a year number far from that.
When does a new year actually begin?
When I was a child, I imagined the year like the chain of a bicycle, All of the months from September (which was, for me, the beginning of the year) to May were on the upper length of the chain, with late May through August taking up an equal length on the bottom. Thus the summers, though shorter in months, were just as long as the rest of the year, or, as it seems, the “school year”. I imagined the year spinning around as I pedaled through, like that bicycle chain when a cyclist is riding along. I wonder if my younger self needed to see the summer as longer-lasting than it really is. The summer was a time of relative freedom, relief from structure. I am always in need of a change, either from too much or too little structure. It is a difficult thing to balance.
Our U.S. New Year celebration is over now, for 2015, but around the planet, some New Year’s celebrations and the start of the calendar years of calendars conceptualized quite unlike ours here are coming up in the months just ahead. While it wouldn’t be right to appropriate the calendar of some other culture, just because we think it’s interesting or cool or different – things we seem to value or claim to value in American culture – it is a good thing to celebrate newness in ourselves; to celebrate the ability to open up to the lives ahead of us. My song “You Won’t See A Thing”, on the album “WildLife”, suggested this feeling, these hopes. I keep my feet planted right here, right now, and all the while I look forward. To what I haven’t yet started:
“I lean against a damp tree,
and I can’t remember Me,
but there’s always someone new inside
…that I just might find.”