Why Bother to Notice What is Behind?

Why Bother to Notice What is Behind?

As of today, January gave up its unrelenting dark days to a little brighter month called February. February, with only 28 days, gives us Ground Hog Day, Valentines Day, Presidents Day, the Super Bowl and Lent begins. February means we are a little closer to Spring than we were in January.

    The Residue of our Challenges

But why bother to review what we’ve already lived through, especially the lightless, long days in the month of January? Perhaps it is because I’ve made it through the dismal, dreary and bleak month that February looks so bright to me already. 

The challenge of driving to work in the dark on snowy mornings and navigating the slick highway with other drivers appears to be behind me now. The sky was more pink than black when I left for work today and the highway was absent of snow. 

Yet, without thinking back on those mornings when I could barely see in front of me, I may not have noticed the contrast this morning; a pink sky instead of a dark gray one. It may be that seeing the elegance in nature is easy after being shrouded in the gloom for so long.

In January, I kept up with my jogging routine, even on the coldest of mornings. Then today, the air, though only a few degrees warmer than a January morning, felt delicious enough to dress in one less layer of clothing. A small, yet significant contrast to the past month, but such a big delightful feeling just to feel a little warmer. Again, without the contrast of this last month’s frigidness, I’d probably not have noticed the slightly warmer temperature today.  

I think it is only by living through something awful that one can appreciate something not quite so awful. The weighty blanket of January had its purpose though. It tested our commitments to any resolutions we may have made for the new year. And even without any new resolutions, January tested our stamina for finding any reasons to be glad. Like a big bully who tries to hold us down in the dirt and makes us say, “I give in,” January does not last forever. Today proves that!

Why bother to notice what is behind us? It is worth it to contrast where we’ve been and where we are. We might note that today is a little brighter than yesterday.

Why Bother To Stick To Your Resolves in January?

Why Bother To Stick To Your Resolves in January? 

According to The American Heritage Dictionary, the name January originates from the ancient Roman god named Janus. In Roman mythology, Janus is depicted as a man with two faces looking in opposite directions; to what is behind him and to what is ahead of him. He was the god of gates and doorways, of beginnings, and the rising and setting of suns.   

January is also commonly associated with particular words such as recap, resolutions and retrospection. It is more common for people to set new goals in January than any other month since it represents the beginning of a new year.

The Devil’s Advocate

But for me, January plays the devil’s advocate to hold true to the old intentions I’ve had in place for years; to keep my body moving, look on the bright side, drink more water than wine and eat more vegetables than chocolate. But when I look ahead to the next thirty-one days of this month I have to ask myself as I do every January; do I have what it takes to maintain my course during the hardest and least favorite month of the year? 

The weather alone makes me want to take shelter inside. Unlike the other states I’ve lived in, Nebraska, South Dakota and Colorado, it rains in northern Idaho in January. Then slush, a mixture that resembles wet cement, forms. It is difficult enough to drive through let alone run in. 

Back when I made that decision to keep my body moving, I started the habit of jogging. Over the years, even though my running has turned into more of a plod, I keep it up anyway because I know it is more beneficial than returning to my previous habit of not running. 

Yet, every January, my running/plodding gets challenged by the slush in my path. Just looking at the slop can make me turn tail and head back home. But I don’t because I know that if I don’t make myself get out there and run, then January beats my resolve. Besides, if I can run through January, I can run through any other month of the year. 

Shrouded in Fog

January is also the darkest month of the year here in the Northwest. Clouds hover over the hills limiting the view. The sun as well as the stars stay hidden behind a continual mist of gray. It is hard to be happy under this constant shroud of fog. But, since I cannot hibernate until spring, I peel myself out of bed early every morning to practice contemplative prayer and yoga before breakfast. 

These two habits replaced shutting off the alarm, rolling over and going back to sleep. And even though January tempts me to revert back to my old ways, I don’t let those thoughts linger for long. I know it’s best not to give in to the temptation of pulling the blankets over my head.  

The practice of contemplation keeps my mind from running away with anxious thoughts while my yoga strengthens every limb in my body. Then I have the stamina to move through whatever the rest of the day holds; slop, slush, rain or gloom. Keeping good ol habits in place, even in January, gives one satisfaction. I know I am better for doing them than for not. 

January can definitely throw a weighty and wet blanket over any of our best resolutions made for the new year; read more, watch T.V. less, go to bed earlier instead of staying up so late, hike more or start a gratitude journal, listen more, talk less to name a few. 

But why bother to stick to what you’ve resolved to do, especially in January? It is worth it because even though January may feel like a big bully trying to keep us from doing the right thing, it only has thirty-one days to do so. After that, poof! It’s gone.  Secondly, January tests us like no other month and if we can sustain our resolve in January, the other months will be a breeze. Let’s stay resolved!