New Beginnings - Steph Cook

New Beginnings

Happy New Years! The start of 2019 is upon us, and a few days into the new year, I’m taking a moment to reflect on beginnings.

 Beginnings can be both wonderful and terrifying, depending on your vantage point. I always feel there’s an undue amount of pressure that we put on ourselves on January 1st. Yes, it’s the start of a new year, which means a clean slate in some regards. But the fact of the matter is that there is no magical moment which happens at the stroke of midnight which makes January 1st unique to any other day of the year, save the fact that we are starting another 365 day rotation around this planet.

  I like to think that there are plenty of things that we did well in the past year and should carry forward with us into 2019.

  Yes, we may have had too many drinks over the holidays or eaten a bit too much, but in the grand scheme of things, do our lives really need an overhaul at the start of each year? Generally speaking, I believe the answer is no. In fact, such an attitude can be destructive as we may tear everything down to fix what is really just a minor blemish or something that just requires a few tweaks.

  As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of a book I loved as a child about a goose that sees an ant in her home, and in a desperate attempt to rid the home of one ant, she instead tears down her entire house. In the end, the ant is still there, but the goose’s home has been completely demolished. Ant --1, Goose – 0. And nothing was gained, but much was lost. A good can of ant spray or a little grace towards the ant (after all, it was just one ant) could have gone a long way towards rectifying the problem without tearing everything down to the studs.

  Instead of focusing on those things which we perceive that we did incorrectly (I’m looking at you hunk of gouda and half-finished bottle of pinot still resting in the fridge), we should think about what we have done well and build on those good habits. Like the goose, we would benefit more by making small changes rather than attempting a complete overhaul of our current situation.

  For example, I’m constantly composing pieces of writing in my head, but these ideas don’t always make it down on paper. I often do jot them down, but from time to time I think I will remember an idea, and I don’t. Instead, the idea is a flash of insight which I have forgotten before I have time to fully formulate my thoughts. It would be helpful if I always took the time to jot ideas down before they are forgotten. Not every idea turns out to be that great (in fact some turn out to be real stinkers) but taking the time to explore the idea is always a good creative practice, even if it is something that ultimately ends up in the literal or digital trash bin. I benefit from the process, and to benefit more, I just need to tweak my habits a bit.

  My only resolution in 2019 is to try to focus on the positive and build those practices which I want to feed and flourish in the coming year. Because an investment in yourself is never one that will go to waste. You will always benefit from exploring the boundaries of what you believe you can do, and building steady, consistent practices to grow your skills is one way to do that.

  To encourage a growth of ideas and reflect on new beginnings, we are hosting our very first short story contest with theme of “new beginnings.” What that theme means to you and how you express it in your writing are up to you, and we are looking forward to seeing how this theme plays out in your submissions.

 Happy writing and cheers to 2019!

  • Steph Cook