A New Year: A Book of Blank Pages

Donna Bucher

(Photo: Unsplash)

Both Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck found the blank page their most feared enemy. I suppose many people find facing a new year, as a blank book of pages before them equally as frightening.

While I heartily agree with Hemingway and Steinbeck from a writer’s point of view, I hold mixed feelings at best, standing on the threshold of a new year.

Conducting a rather fun poll, my queries of people both known and unknown to me yielded the same mixed feelings. After the dust settled, I find people fall into one of two camps when facing a new year as a book of blank pages.

new year, new opportunities

For many, new energy and excitement surround the blank pages of a new year. Presenting ample space, the blank slate of a new year offers endless possibilities with which to fill each page.

Similar to the maxim of “turning over a new leaf”, whereby we rid ourselves of the blotted mess of a well-worn page, stepping into the new year’s blank pages promises second chances.

blank canvas surrounded by plants on white table

Viewing a new year as a book of blank pages, for some invites excitement in new adventures, anticipation of new memories, and renewed energy for accomplishments yet ahead.

By far, more people fell into this group, completely energized by the blank canvas of 2023 before them, they felt their creativity and hope soar.

new year, same old song

Surprisingly, a number of people not only frowned at the thought of a new year, but saw the blank pages of 2023 as merely more of the same disappointments, unmet goals, and life’s monotonous drone.

Unlike Hemingway and Steinbeck, a new year’s book of blank pages brings no anxiety to this group; the blank pages elicit no emotion or inspiration whatsoever.

While most seemed negative, some radiated sheer exhaustion, while still others simply lacked inspiration. All bore a vision preferring a dismal backward glance to a hopeful forward gaze.

Though tossing last year’s calendar, they still carried all the misery, disappointment, failures, and flubs into the new year. Imprinting the freshness of a new start with the smudges of chapters long ended.

There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.

C.S. Lewis

holding a book of blank pages

Sitting with a book of blank pages, whether a new journal, day planner, or even a simple fresh steno pad, the pages demand to be filled.

2023 calendar, cup of coffee and plant on white table

Facing a new year as a book of blank pages sparks the same feelings. The days spread out before me, waiting to be filled. Make no mistake, the moments and days will fill, but with what?

Perhaps some exciting events await you in 2023, even as some unpleasant things linger in the shadows.

If, like the smaller group in my survey, you view the blank pages of a new year as “more of the same”, (disappointments, sorrows, and failures); try a novel approach.

Instead of basing the blank pages of 2023 on the morbid scenario of past years, why not view it from the perspective of 2023?

The new year has no knowledge of your past disappointments or failures, neither is it impressed with your successes. It bears no grudges or condemnation; it merely offers the fresh start with the potential of a life well lived.

This year I will be more thoughtful of my fellow man, exert more effort in each of my endeavors professionally as well as personally, take love wherever I find it, and offer it to everyone who will take it. In this coming year I will seek knowledge from those wiser than me and try to teach those who wish to learn from me. I love being alive and I will be the best man I possibly can –

Duane Allman, January 1, 1969, diary entry

new year, new mercies

My own mixed emotions as I face the blank pages of another year, prompt an even more novel idea.

book of blank pages, fountain pen poised above

Maybe my reticence at facing a new year, rests not with the blank pages before me, but with the hand holding the pen.

As with my writing, when I pin the outcome on my ability alone, anxiety becomes my companion. But when surrendered to God, desirous of speaking the words He gives, the blank page holds no fear.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

Remembering not only God’s unfailing love, and new mercies each day, but His enabling strength (Philippians 4:13) endows us with the courage to step boldly into a new year.

Reflecting upon His faithfulness in both the hard and joyous moments of the previous year, reminds us He will never leave or forsake us in the new year. (Hebrews 13:5)

Resting in the God of new beginnings, encourages us not only to face a new year of blank pages without fear, but helps us surrender the pen into His sovereign hands.

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All content is copyrighted and the intellectual property of Donna M. Bucher, Serenity in Suffering 2020.

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