Ringing in the New Year

I’m a fan of holidays that acknowledge — and even celebrate — change, like New Year’s Day. As the last few minutes of the old year tick away and we slip further into the new year, there’s a universal bittersweet feeling that sweeps over the world: for the dying of the old year, a moment of nostalgia in which even the worst of times seem briefly poetic; for the new year, an anticipation for the unknown and untried, for possibility. It’s a day when, more than ever, we’re faced with the fact that nothing in life is permanent and unchanging, and that we’re all swept along on a current over which we have no control. Here are some quotes to reflect the spirit of the day:

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
-T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

“On the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.”
-Henry Ward Beecher

“The greatest wisdom is to lay no plans.”
Chuang Tzu, Chapter 23

“Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year.  Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.”
-Thomas Mann

“Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end. There is existence without limitation; there is continuity without a starting point. Existence without limitation is space. Continuity without a starting point is time. There is birth, there is death, there is issuing forth, there is entering in. That through which one passes in and out without seeing its form, that is the Door of Heaven.”
Chuang Tzu, Chapter 23

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