The Blank Slate

It’s January 1. Happy new year.

Snow and frost in the Sandilands
Snow and frost in the Sandilands

This morning I skied in the Sandilands with friends. Beneath the low gray sky, the world was white. Thick snow from a couple weeks back still caked to tree branches and needles and a thick layer of hoar frost made for a beautiful scene to take in as we swished along the trails.

Here in front of me was the very metaphor we point to on the new year. The blank slate. The clean sheet. The turning of the calendar gives opportunity to forget the year behind us and turn the page on a new and unadulterated year ahead.

More snow and frost in the Sandilands
More snow and frost in the Sandilands

But even as I noted the living of the metaphor before me, I chuckled. While the snow made for the appearance of a fresh start, the evidence of history and context was everywhere. The trails I followed had been carefully created by our club’s groomers, later enforced by other skiers. The blanket of snow was supported by branches and hills beneath it. The blank slate here wasn’t a clearly away of everything past, but a blanket freeing the imagination to new opportunity.

When we turn the calendar’s page, we can’t begin without acknowledging the years behind us that got us to this place, nor the context surrounding us.

But the clean sheet gives something important: edges. By putting a clean sheet on the table we turn our focus to the space defined by the edges of the paper. Not all is lost, and not all must be accomplished, you have this single sheet in which to create something.

Is there something new you’re hoping to create this year? Or is there something you’re hoping to discard?

Tabula rasa
Returning home, my daughter was facing her own blank slate, together with “wolfie”

January 1 is also reminds us that any day can be our clean slate. If the arbitrary turning of a calendar can signify a fresh start, any hour of the day can be an opportunity to create something new, all we need to do is turn the page.