“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell
Now that the year is ending, It’s time to let go of the events of this year and look ahead to what will happen next year and who you will be. I think that's one of my favorite things about December 31 and January 1 - the reminder of the motion of life constantly moving forward.
I have the most trouble letting go of things, and I don’t mean that I hold grudges. I mean that I can’t forget the past and it’s incredibly hard for me to let people leave my life. This stems from a lot of fear of losing something, or more importantly someone who is important to me. Even though I have such a hard time letting go, there are also events and people I don’t want to look back on. But as Jean-Paul Bedard says in his article, “The Haunting of Our Past,” our past is our story, and “If our story is our past, and we are our story, isn't it unreasonable to expect that we can willfully sever a "part of us," like it were a diseased limb?” Basically, your past is a part of you and not something you can get rid of, just something you can move on from.
Yet, it is incredibly important to spend time with your past and not ignore it. There is probably a lot of hurt and a lot of joy, but the pain and disappointment is what you run from. “Lodged behind every pain, sorrow, or hurt, is fear -- the fear that we are not good enough, the fear of letting go, the fear of uncertainty, and the fear of acceptance,” says Bedard. The older I get, the more I see that pain is layered. It’s not just that I got hurt this year by this person. It’s a reminder of another time I got hurt similarly by someone else. Then, it’s just pain on top of pain, and it doesn’t matter if it’s something I’ve dealt with or not. Triggers to past hurt always comes unexpectedly and always will, but it’s something we need to accept and not run from. Bedard believes, “Acceptance and growth comes when I sit with my pain; caress my fears, for they are my most devote of teachers.”
The end of the year means a door is closing in your life. This could be good, or bad, or neither depending on how you look at it. Now is a good time to look back on the past year and reflect on who you’ve become and how you got there. Do you like yourself more now than you did a year ago? If you do, then you’re heading in a good direction. If you don’t, then it’s time you do something different.
Bedard quotes three people to remind himself of important lessons the past brings:
1. "Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different, it's accepting the past for what it was, and using this moment and this time to help yourself move forward." - Oprah Winfrey
2. "Some people are going to leave, but that's not the end of your story. That's the end of their part in your story." - Faraaz Kazi
3. "New Beginnings are often disguised as painful endings." -- Lao Tzu
If you are optimistic, you believe that there is always another door open for you, whether one has already closed or not. For others, it’s not so easy to think this way. But I believe that first statement is true. I love the idea of an ending being a new beginning, and if this is true, then that means another door always opens when one closes. Life is like a hall of doors, and it’s your job to find the open one. If you can’t find it, then you’re probably still stuck looking at the closed one.
To see what I would find, I googled “move forward,” and one of the first things that came up was a thesaurus. Here are a list of words to use for next year: achieve, advance, attain, benefit, boost, build up, earn, expand, grow, improve, increase, make, obtain, pick up, produce, promote, reach, realize, reap, accomplish, complete, profit, progress, succeed. A lot of words, but just pick five that stand out to you, write them down, place it somewhere you will see it every day, and include those words in your New Year’s resolutions. Every new year and every open door is an opportunity for growth.