Philadelphia sunset

The Promise of Potential


Can you feel it? The promise of potential. It is what makes the New Year one of the most spiritually powerful times for many. We are being given a very sacred gift – a new chance, a blank slate, another beginning.

People call them “resolutions,” but I like to call them “realizations.” At the start of a new year, we become acutely aware of what we did not accomplish the previous year; so we make lists, write articles, and post statues on Facebook about how this year will be different.

Some like to look at New Year’s resolutions (or realizations) with a critical eye – how empty and hypocritical of us to continue to make promises we inevitably never keep: by April, May, June, most of us have completely forgotten about our desire to lose 10 pounds or save that extra money or make that bold career move. We get sucked into routine again, thinking, “well, there’s always next year.”

But see, that’s the beauty of it. Until our inevitable deaths (and perhaps even after that, depending on what you believe), there will always be a next year. Time doesn’t stop for our regrets. And the crazy thing is, the concept of New Year’s is totally constructed by us – we made up a time to mark as The Beginning. Quite frankly, nature itself has no beginnings and no endings – life and death dance cyclically for eternity. The first new moon of 2016 doesn’t even fall on January 1st, for example, but on January 9th. Many cultures around the world have their own New Year celebrations, separate from the January 1st one, either spiritual or historical or both.

So what makes January 1st so special?

For me, and because of the culture I happen to live in, January 1st feels like hope. So what if by June I’ll be focused on different things, lost in routine, or wrapped up in regret (I sure hope not, though!) – what matters, right now, at this very moment, on the second day of 2016, is that I am thoroughly and completely consumed by the intoxicating promise of potential. I feel unstoppable, invincible, and cleansed. It’s not because I made any specific lists (I actually stopped making concrete New Year’s resolutions years ago), but because of the very essence of a beginning: I know that there is so much more to come.

There is an excitement to anticipation, to wondering how the year will go – and to the illusion that you can now “put it all behind you.” 2015, 2014, and so on, our actions, choices, and words of those past years never truly go away (we are shaped by who we once were as much as by who we will become). And yet, it’s so easy to believe that we are someone completely new on January 1st, and I am all for that belief. I think it truly does make us stronger, and more capable of future growth.

Every year on January 1st, I do a Tarot reading in which I draw cards for each month of the current new year. It’s not fortune telling, or even predicting my future. It’s a framework of concepts, ideas, symbols, and feelings that may or may not be important during any given month. That might sound vague and totally unhelpful, but I believe the point of Tarot is to make you think, not make you know. It’s not so much that x-feeling/event/symbol/etc. will absolutely happen or appear in a given month, it’s more that during that month it might be important to focus on x based on how things stand going into that month. How did the baggage of the previous year/month affect me? What am I still carrying? What can I change and/or embrace? And what does my year look like, as a whole, as a big picture, based on the me that has left 2015 and entered 2016?

Despite what I said above about buying into the belief that we start over every New Year, I’ve personally carried a lot of baggage into my January 2016. The card I pulled for January was the Three of Swords. This card often indicates pain, rejection, remorse, grief, and sadness – emotions relating to mental anguish. A lot of really unfortunate things happened at the end of 2015 – a really close friend of my family’s lost her battle with breast cancer, a member of Jack’s family was diagnosed with breast cancer, shootings and other tragedies pervaded my country (a home I am supposed to be proud of), I was in a car accident (no injury, but lots of annoying car damage/insurance stuff to deal with), and I struggled through a lot of stress, anxiety, and personal issues in general. Not to mention, the weather during the holidays was so bizarre and out of season it upset a lot of us, either consciously or subconsciously, and the energy during the holidays this year was hectic, argumentative, and somewhat negative in general – more so than it has been in the past.

It hurts to become.

That being said, today is January 2nd. It’s bright and sunny, I have a tattoo appointment that I am looking forward to, and it’s Saturday – a day off from work. The high of New Year’s has not yet worn off – there is potential all around me, and I am feeling the buzz of excitement it brings. I can be whatever I want to be this year, and there’s so many adventures to be had.

Happy New Year!


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