running into a new year

September 5, 2013 | Tags: , , ,

It seems fitting to write my first blog post during these early days of September when the Jewish new year begins with Rosh Hashanah and its celebration of creation and when the start of another school year is marked by so many newly sharpened pencils and clean, untattered notebooks.

caterpillar on milkweed

September has always seemed to me a good time for beginnings, in part because, inevitably, it reminds me that beginnings are made of endings. September’s turning of the seasons has me looking forward and backward at the same time, eager for another new year of empty pages waiting to be filled but also a little sad to be letting go of what I cherish in the summer months. Long daylight. Warm nights. Late afternoon swimming in the river and sunrise Tai Chi along the banks. Heavy ripe tomatoes. Birdsong wafting in through the open windows.

One of my favorite writing prompts about beginnings is inspired by Lucille Clifton’s poem, “i am running into a new year,” where she pairs her eager anticipation of another new year with a backwards looking awareness of all that she is leaving as she goes. It ends with these lines:

i am running into a new year
and i beg what i love and
i leave to forgive me

It’s a poem I like to read out loud for its rhythms and sounds as much as for its meaning; I might read it out loud two or three times before I start writing with the phrase,

It is a new year, and I am running toward….
And then I pause and begin a new paragraph or sentence with,
It is a new year, and I am leaving….

I photographed this caterpillar the other day as it was eating its way across a milkweed plant in my garden, and I realized that I too am hungry for change. And . . . . like this caterpillar, I likely have little idea of what transformations lie ahead or what I might have to leave behind as I run headlong into the new year that beckons me.

I am running into a new year, I remind myself. One step and one day at a time, I enter it, eager for what lies ahead but also knowing I will have to leave some things behind.

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