This time of year, when we by agreement begin a New Year and leave the old behind, we hear rather a very (very) lot about fresh starts and clean slates.
The house I grew up in was filled with antiques, most were passed down through the family on one side or the other, a few appealed to my parent’s sense of whimsy and were purchased. The whole concept completely eluded me as a child. Bubbling veneer and chipped enamel kitchen scales just seemed old ,depressing and not the least bit charming. I resolved to do things so much differently, so much better when I , at last, reached adulthood myself. My home would be filled with things that were new and bright and clean of line.
Among the many objects I found to be ungainly,unnecessary and worn was a child’s schoolroom slate; bound with fabric once red , by then a dusty pink, and hinged with leather so that the two pieces of slate could open and close like a book. This item both fascinated and repelled me. Fascinated because it was one of the few antiques (along with a doll and a desk) that I could actually use and repelled because it could never be wiped fully clean. Over the years it had been scratched and over the years it had been written on with instruments more permanent and less forgiving than chalk. Anything I could write or draw on the four sides of this little slate book was always only in the foreground of some earlier child’s pentimento. Cleaning and polishing were for naught…what was there was there.
And this is how I am coming into the New Year myself. I am indelibly written on by my experience,my relationships, my mistakes,my triumphs, my pain and my love. It is all there to be seen through the new things that I will do , I will see, I will experience in the New Year . How those new things will be incorporated to color my life are not simply in themselves alone but rather how they blend with the colors already in place.
I’ve never understood how a person could say they have no regrets, I can only assume they have truly terrible (if awfully convenient) memory. My regrets in my life are absolutely rife and there is no reason to believe that that will change. In fact I have every reason to believe massive amounts of new regrets are just around the corner. I am okay with this inevitability though because I also know that regret is often the kiln in which new things will be fired and I can’t wait to see what they will turn out to be. And I know too , of course, that beyond new regret there will be new joys, new creative adventures, new risks and the privilege of long and treasured relationships that will continue to hold over this next year and countless more years.
As I sit writing this post in my (oh yes…oh,well ! ) antique filled room, I am content, no, grateful to know my slate is no longer fresh. I know that I absolutely for sure will not start 2013 with a clean slate. My slate is well used and well worn… and it is so ready and able to be drawn on anew. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I wish the same for each of you. Happy New Year to all of you, may your colors old and new blend for something wonderful in your lives this coming year.