I remember my dad telling me a few years back that he felt weird when he looked in the mirror. When I asked what he meant, he said “Well, I see my ‘old’ face looking back at me but behind my eyes, I feel just like I did when I was 21.” Here’s a man who has had a full life; lived through a world war, enjoyed a large and boisterous family and has had music in his bones for over 80 years. He was wistful as he explained to me how time just keeps going faster as he gets older. At that time, I don’t think I fully appreciated what he was telling me. Now I do.
When I look back over my own life so far, I’m drawn to the question “What if…?” Our life choices colour and flavour our daily existence and determine which road we take. Sometimes, we stop for a moment and wonder “How exactly, did I get here?” or “Do I really want to be working at, living in or spending my time doing…?” For many, these life questions can be a source of great frustration, turmoil and even depression.
The good news (I always like the good news first) is that wherever you find yourself in life, there’s usually a way to make a fresh start. The bad news (OK, we had to hear it) is that sometimes, as much as we’d love to, we can’t have a do over as time wanders away from us and our bodies hold the evidence! But, we could re-create our life, our circumstances, our health possibly, our living situation or our work. Our families are with us, hiding in our backpacks or walking right alongside us as we go through life but these other areas that define us are often within our power to change.
In our family, we usher out the old year with the banging of pots and pans outside. Yes, we wake the neighbours if they’re asleep as this tradition is carried out with great gusto. We throw away the past and welcome in the coming year with a toast and a meal shared with good friends, family and whoever else happens to be with us. We smile and laugh as we share memories from past New Year’s celebrations and wonder and dream about what lies ahead.
If you are ready to just start over in some area of your life, the library has a great selection of books to inspire you. If you like the raw facts and data try The Nurture Effect by Anthony Biglan. For common sense approaches read The New Health Rules by Frank Lipman and for a funny memoir about life change, take a look at Still Life with Chickens: Starting over in a House by the Sea by Catherine Goldhammer.
If all else fails, clean out a closet – a great way to start over that just makes you feel good.
Sue Kline is the community librarian at the Summerland Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.