“Happy New Year” – the greeting is going around, meaning to be positive and hopeful. I have been wondering what it is about the NEW that moves us into a different emotional space. For some, the emotional space might be dread or anxiety and for others it is clearly energizing and hopeful. I know that for me, the “new” about coming to Lawrence is energizing the new people, new relationships, new opportunities, and a new beginning. I feel a renewed kinship to freshmen in the joys and difficulties of navigating ALL Things for the first time.
What has also been reinforced for me, is the ways that my personal history and that of this institution shape the experience of “new.” I suspect that it is also true of the ways we greet a new year, a new class, a new roommate, a new situation at home, or a new puppy. Memories, relationships, and physically embedded responses do not disappear when the new arrives. They shape our capacities and limitations for imagining what this new “something” will mean.
Unfortunately, an adverse experience leaves a stronger chemical footprint in our brains and bodies than do the moments of joy and light. So we need to build a reservoir of gratitude, connection, and awe if we are to continue to grow, thrive and connect in this New Year.
A new practice that I will begin this term is taking the risk of thinking out loud on a regular basis in these “Hump Day” reflections. At the point of a week being half gone AND with half a week to go it seems a good place to stop, breathe, think beyond the TO DO lists and regain perspective. I welcome your thoughts and responses – or the fact that you might simply take 5 minutes to think with me.
Happy New Year, Lawrence!