“January” takes its name from the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings and endings, gates and doorways, transitions, passages and time. Images of Janus often show him with two faces: one looking forward, the other looking back.

Depiction of Janus

As I mentioned in an earlier post, 2016 was mostly a crap year, one to leave in the dustbin of history and not bring out, even on special occasions. It’ll be like the spare chair that you avoid using, even when there are guests, because it has an irreparably wonky leg. “Don’t sit there! It’s not safe for sitting. We just pile things there.” There were a few good moments – my younger brother getting married, for example, and the birth of his daughter. But for the most part, it’s a year I’m happy to forget.

Looking forward, of course, requires a certain amount of looking back. (Turns out those Romans were onto something!) If you don’t know where you came from, how can you know which way is forward? The last thing anyone should want is back-track through last year.

At the same time, looking forward is a bit of misnomer. It’s not as though we can really see what’s coming. If we could, surely we would have found some way to steer Titanic America clear of that hideously orange iceberg they elected – Russian interference notwithstanding. No, when it comes to the future, it’s more like wishing or hoping than looking forward.

So, what am I hoping for, beyond the obvious (good health, more money, male pattern baldness becoming fashionable)? That’s a good question. For the most part it’s little things: ride my bike more, get back to running, spend more time with friends and family, write more, read more, waste less time on things that don’t really matter to me.

That’s not a super ambitious list, but it doesn’t depend on anything I can’t really control. I think maybe that’s the key to being happy: don’t get too fussed about things you can’t control. More easily said than done, of course. Some things beyond our control can really hurt. So that’s another thing I’m hoping for this year: not to be sideswiped by fate, knocked on my ass by things I can’t do anything about. I hope the same thing for you, too.

One thought on “Looking forward, and back

  1. I like the key to being happy definition you are using! The one item I would like to control better, more often is money or the lack of it.


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