Another year, another color in the rainbow
I’ve never liked resolutions.
I have always liked fresh starts.
Remember how new school supplies used to make you feel anything was possible? Do you tackle your annual spring cleaning with half resignation, half secret thrill?
Human beings love to begin again.
This bit of psychology helps explain why New Year’s resolutions are so popular. A study from June 2014 describes the “fresh start effect.” Researchers found that launching a project on a significant date noticeably ups the odds of its success.
New Year’s Day has always been a top choice for fresh starts. 1/1 is an easy date to hold onto. Ultimately, though, the date only matters because it clearly marks the split between the old and new year; the “old” and “new” you.
When our present self becomes a clean slate, we’re told, we get to paint a whole new picture.
Here’s where I rebel against the concept of resolutions. First, they take a lot of willpower, and we already know that’s a finite resource.
More importantly, I usually enter each New Year liking where I was headed the day, week, and month before. I want to keep that momentum going, not stop it in its tracks.
Still, I can’t stand to let the oh-so-significant line between December 31 and January 1 blur into just another day. Even without promising to read ten new books or give up diet soda, I want to feel like I’m moving toward something unknown and exciting.
After years of leaving parties after the ball had dropped, feeling vaguely frustrated, I finally found the metaphor for what New Year’s means to me.
Instead of wiping my slate clean and starting a new drawing, I see this holiday as the time to add one more color to a scene I’ve already begun.
If life is a watercolor, the stroke of midnight dividing this Wednesday and Thursday is when I’ll dip my brush into a bright turquoise. The new color should add a beautiful highlight to last year’s royal purple, and enhance the golden yellow from the year before that.
I only took one art class in high school, but I remember my teacher intoning that where dark and light meet is where art captures life. The magic comes when you allow things to overlap.
Because yes, blank pages are inspirational.
And yes, it’s undeniably exciting to twist the top off a never-used tube of paint.
But what I really love is watching how the colors of each year blend and evolve. When I’m brave enough to let them mix, just beyond my control, they usually transform into something better than I could have ever envisioned.
And, should they become a smudge instead… Well, there’s always 2016.
Here’s to your personal rainbow. Happy New Year!
– Jennie Saia, Contributing Editor