New Start

New StartI keep looking for a new start.

Eternally, I keep trying to leave behind the failures of my days and weeks, to turn over a new leaf, to have a clean page, promising that this time I’ll make the most of my time, do it right, finally succeed. I seemed determined to make this new step, this new effort the one that finally works, the one that I finally don’t screw up, the one that finally proves I am not a failure.

This determination to leave the past behind and start over is leaving me crippled and crushed, unable to take a step forward for fear that it is not the absolute best effort and work I can muster.


2013, the year after the end of the world, began on a Tuesday, which is probably the most insignificant day of the week.

Today, Facebook and Twitter are full of people talking about resolutions. This year’s trend seems to be not making resolutions for the new year, but rather making goals or new habits or articulating values that (we can hope) will be more lasting than a wishful resolve. The magic of 12 midnight of the first of January has propelled us into a fresh day, one that starts a new calendar year. A new year, a new day, a new hour, a new moment. Everyone seems happy to leave 2012 behind or excited to step into 2013 and find an even better year than the last one.

But it’s Tuesday.

Let’s be honest here: New Year’s eve and the day that follows is just another day. The significance we assign to this moment in time is only symbolic. Nothing is significantly different from yesterday. Sure, we all flipped the calendar page over, but it’s still Tuesday. It’s still the same week as it was, we still have the same life we did, the same job, the same family, the same hopes and dreams, and the same weaknesses and shame.

Nothing changes on a Tuesday.

Moving On

Most of the time, I wish starting over was as easy as having that last minute pass before midnight on New Years Eve.

But it’s not.

No matter how hard we want to deny our past, our failures, and our lacking, the truth of the matter is this: our history has happened. It cannot be undone. It cannot be forgotten. It cannot be denied. Our history is our story. A new day, a new year, a new decade… none of this is a reset button. There is no definitive mark in the sand, some mystical line signifying that now we can finally be who we were destined to be and finally do our dreams.

We don’t start over; we keep moving on.

Little Voices

I keep moving with my history in tow, this bag full of stories and lessons, wisdom gained from each passing year. I may not have done all of it right, but it has led me here. As wounded, troubled, bland, and disappointing as some of my history has been, I wouldn’t erase it and try to start over. Instead, I will move on.

I want the pages of my story to be fuller than they have been. So I will move on, building on what has come before. I will continue to build a life with all the baggage I carry with me. I will redeem my history. I will watch the seeds of my past grow and bloom into maturity. I can’t leave it all behind, after all history is the stuff of life.

I’m probably going to feel like a failure at this. I’m probably going to let my self down. I’m probably going to let you down.

But I will move on.

Each day I wake up and continue to walk my path, hope my hopes, work out my dreams. Every day I wake up, pick up my history, and continue on is another day I add to my story. As long as I am adding pages, I know it’s not done. I know there is more to be written, more to be lived, more to make into my future history. There is more good, more bad, and more ugly to be had. There is more.

Every day I choose to pick up where I left off the night before, when I take my history with me into the unknown, every time I keep moving on… this is the best kind of new start.

  • Ah, but Aaron, I live with Anne Lamott’s philosophy – we can start our new 24 hours anytime we want. We can start over anytime we want.

    You’re right – we don’t leave behind our past. But we get to try and try again, every day anew. Every year anew. Perhaps this is the greatest grace we have been given.

    • I agree that any minute of any day we can square our shoulders, turn to the future, and walk on in a renewed intention, a fresh resolve, a start of stepping away from what we need to untangle ourselves from… but I don’t think we do justice to our past to say we are starting over.

      Yes, continually try and try again! Yes! I of all people know this grace. I guess this new year I’m learning that I try from where I am, not from a mythical blank book. This page I’m starting May be fresh and new (or maybe not), but I have miles of chapter and verse that have led me here. Any new day I begin comes 32 years into this history. I (and perhaps this is more for me than anyone else) need to remember my history even as I move on.

  • Michelle Woodman

    The idea of us moving on as opposed to starting over really clicks with me for some reason. You’re right — too often I have had the mindset of “I need to do all of this over, and try to erase my past like some magical Etch-a-Sketch.” But life doesn’t work that way. And it’s like I’m thinking God *can’t* use even my muck-ups and failures for good, which in turn probably prevents Him from doing just that. It’s not a good cycle. 😛

  • love this post, aaron! can totally relate and alluded to it a bit in my post today sharing my one word for the year.

    too many presses of the reset button and we end up looking like the tv screen while playing an old nintendo – it got stuck in a loop and never stabilized until we turned off the system, pulled out the cartridge and blew out the dust we believed had settled there.

    though i agree with andi and believe we can start over any time we want, at some point we must push past the starting line and keep moving despite what’s going on around us. this has always been an issue for me in writing. if i had a nickel for every unfinished novel or short story i’ve written over the years, i probably wouldn’t have to worry about my mortgage every month. not that i do worry about that; but i think you know what i mean.

  • Great post and Amen!! Tho I always like the promise a new day , a new job, a new friendship, a new blogpost holds as well as a new year. Here’s to 2013>>>come what may!

  • Brandon

    Aaron, this is beautiful and true. New starts without foundations crumble. As I look forward to my own moving forward, I hope to see what your next steps look like too. Thank you for writing this.

  • ” this new effort the one that finally works, the one that I finally don’t screw up, the one that finally proves I am not a failure.”

    This is a dangerous trap to fall into my friend. I think it’s healthy to fail and fail some more. The problem is not the even itself it is our reaction to it and if we start to fuse our identity and worth with normal every day to day things that we may or may not have control over.

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