2018 is behind us, and 2019 is ahead. The calendar comes down and a new one goes up, but is that all there is to time passing? Is a new year really just a new day in disguise, and what does the ongoing flow of time mean in a Forcely universe?
First, let me say – Happy New Year! There is no right or wrong time to wish someone happiness and joy and this is a good excuse to do so. The question of the passage of time is an interesting one for Jedi, as we fundamentally believe in the unity of all things – this surely encompasses the unity of time, too. But all things being one doesn’t make everything a homogeneous grey gloop, and so it is with certain days – the day is yours to make of it what you will, and why not make this day one for reflection, intention-setting and an appraisal of one’s own “place” within the wider Force?
Think of time as the endlessly wide chain of cause and effect. The seconds tick by, and the universe changes. Plants grow. Stars die. We breathe in, and we breathe out. We can’t really contain the “Whole” of the Force because it’s beyond human comprehension to do so, but we can visualise the tremendous vastness and huge number of ongoing processes happening right now across the little bit of the universe we know about. This change, this growth and flow of one thing into the next, these are the actions of the Force. Cars drive along the street, birds fly overhead. That old metaphor of the wind in the leaves comes to mind again. Each one of these is a huge sequence of cause and effect in itself, and has an astronomically huge sequence of causes and effects leading to it. Combustion of fuel. Metabolism of food into wing motion. But invention, too. Evolution. The existence of the planet at all, the coalescence of cosmic dust into a solar system. The birth of the universe. All of this is cause and effect, all of it the action of the magnificent Force.
So where does that leave something as seemingly humble as the passing of one year into the next? Well, we are humans, and humans keep calendars. A thing is not meaningless just because it has no mirror in nature, but the calendar surely does. Seasons flow one into the next. We may be in the depths of dark, cold Winter, but soon Spring will be here, with new growth, sticky buds and shoots rising from the forest floor. Summer will follow, full growth, the year stretching its back, heat haze rising off the grass in the fields and a warm breeze on the skin. Autumn comes, that new growth now old, bark and leaf dry and cool – and then Winter again, a period of darkness, snow and cold which blankets the players of this eternal game in night, daring Spring to come again. The calendar is our closest reflection of this beautiful natural cycle, a compartmentalisation of each phase into multiple phases of months. It invites a great opportunity to reflect on the past year and a new opportunity to set the tone for what comes next.
Reflection is core to the Jedi path, something we need to do regularly to check our step, our intent and our approach. The year changing is a direct invitation to reflect, to take stock of the past 12 months. Where were you 12 months ago? What are the events which changed your year, or your life even? Who saw the last year in, vs the person greeting the new one? What do you regret, what did you learn, how did you grow? What brought you joy, encouragement, or light? Also, think of the things which caused the most pain, discomfort or suffering in the last year. What did you learn? What was the lesson? And what can you leave behind?
Think also of the place you are in today, the things still “going on”, for good or for bad. You are only ever in the “right now”. You are in the moment, here, and cannot be anywhere else. In a very real sense, today is the only day that matters. But that shouldn’t stop you from considering what comes next – from taking the action which sets the new chain of events in motion, the new cause which generates a desired effect. If you plant a seed today (indoors, at this time of year!), you will grow a tree sooner than if you plant one in a week, or a month, or not at all. Where do you want to be at the end of this year, changing calendars and reflecting? Who do you want to be? And what are you prepared to do to get there?
I’m not much for setting New Years Resolutions. In my opinion, Jedi should be in a constant process of evaluation, learning and growth. What seems like the right goal today, may reveal itself to be the wrong goal tomorrow, and too much rigidity or inflexibility makes us brittle. Be open, be aware, and keep reflecting. But do also take this day in hand; take stock, reflect, and set your intent for the year ahead. Sure, today is “just another day” – but examine that “just”. “Just”?! Each new day is an enormous gift! There is a huge opportunity every time the sun rises. Every day could be the one you look back on as the day your life changed – for better or worse! The new day is your opportunity to change everything: who you are, what you do, the things you believe, the life you lead.
And the good news is, you’ve been dealing with “new days” your whole life. Yes, this is another one.
You’ve got this.
May the new year bring you wisdom, adventure and peace
May you find abundance in times of scarcity,
Solace in times of turmoil,
Faith in times of doubt.
The Force will guide you – may you follow where it leads.