Tick…. Tick…. Tick…

The clock counts down to midnight to close out the weird year 2020. For most, it is something to forget.

It’s essential, though, to start a new year better after such a challenging year.

We should take our cue from the Romans, who created a god to express what we all feel. He had two faces. One looked backward, and the other gazed to the future. They named him Janus, whence comes the name of the first month of our year.

We live with the fallacy that the new year ushers in a different life. Nothing has changed, but our perspective. We want to see opportunities in the new.

So, like Janus, we look both back and forward.

In 2020, we saw a pandemic creep across the world like black mold growing on a damp wall. Nothing seemed to stop it. All we could do was do what we could to avoid the spread. Whether it worked or not, history will judge.

With the year, we lost so many people and things. Our schedules and routines flew away in the spring winds. It left us wondering if life would ever return. Many things will not, victims of the virus.

But now, turn 180 degrees and look at the new year.

January 1st will not look much different from December 31st. But we are hopeful that the vaccines will rid us of the spread of the virus. Perhaps life will return to some kind of normalcy by the end of 2021.

With that in mind, how do we face the new year?

Lower Your Expectations

We enter each year with grand expectations. This year is even worse. We want to believe that when the sun rises on January 1st, the bad dream of 2020 vanishes. Life will revert to February 2020 status.

It is best to lower the bar for the future. We won’t end our current situation or recover normalcy (whatever that is) overnight. It may take months.

As someone has said, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape.” It is a good philosophy to follow, especially in 2021.

Release Your Disappointment

Disappointment develops from unmet (and usually unrealistic) expectations. In 2020, the unexpected and unimaginable happened. We cannot change what happened. Some shout into the wind about what life handed to them (in whatever form they cast life). But the past is gone, never to return. What you lost is now part of the ashes of time. Let it go.

Take a Day at a Time

New Year’s Day tempts us to take a big bite out of the future. We plan to lose 20 pounds, exercise every day, clean out all our clutter, and make life ideal. It won’t happen.

Life comes in day-tight compartments, lived 24 hours at a time. The question is not what you will do with this year. It is what you will do with this day.

One of my keystone Bible verses comes at the end of Matthew 6.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

Take care of today’s troubles. Go to bed, and start over the next day.

No one has a crystal ball to see what 2021 will bring. No matter what happens, we can live through it as well.

Have a happy and safe new year.