I love the start of a new year. The crisp, white pages of a new planner, like a fresh snowfall not yet marred by footprints. Soon enough the ducks will patter their way across the yard, and soon enough the pages will be filled with chicken scratch. Ideas and thoughts; dreams and visions will all eventually grace its pristine pages.
I ordered the planner online, a reminder of the previous year still wrapped around me. The car still ensconced in snow, the parcels still stuck in transit, the cards still strewn about my desk. My last big project of the year stares up at me from my work table, nearing its completion. All silent reminders that I’m still in the here and now, thick in the process.
My mind drifts back to the planner as I survey the scene. Its potential plucks at my creative heartstrings. The seduction of the unknown, the undecided. Its pages, like the midday sky, wide open.
The day the planner arrived, a new load of firewood was delivered. Two cords, plus a little. Not because we had run out, just to get ahead for next winter. After two years of damp splits, we’d finally learned our lesson. It would need to be stacked in the woodshed, sheltered to season. Set aside for the future when it would serve us well.
The scattered pile is a new year sign of a different sort. A fresh start. A step ahead. Tangible. Practical. Predictable. Concrete, with crisp, clean edges, even if the pile itself seems messy. Every piece contains the clear start and stop of a task. Pick up. Put down. Move from there to here.
I think in many ways this is what the allure of a new year is all about. Every year, every projects contains both the planner and the pile. The vision and the manifestation. The yin and the yang of creative energies. Soon enough the lines between them will be blurred in a flurry of progress. But for now they’re separate, the future’s thick limbs not yet intertwined.
And there’s something enticing about them both: the meandering path and the crisp clear road. One begs us to wander, the other to dive right in. One is full of potential, the other of definition. There’s something powerful about dreaming, yes, but there’s also something wonderful about simply knowing what to do. About having steps cleanly defined, before the process is marred by second guessing or indecision or miscalculations. When things are easy simply because they’ve not yet proven themselves to be hard. Pick up. Put down. Move on.
So much of life, and creative work in particular, is mucky around the edges. When we get to experience either part of the process in isolation, the dreaming or the doing, it’s powerful. It’s motivating. The trick, of course, is to carry that motivation with us as long as possible. Through the messiness of the middle, through the struggles and the stuck parcels, through the looming deadlines and unfinished projects.
Until then, we get to savor the potential of the planner and the pile, the untouched snow and the promise of the future.