January is a time for new beginnings. From making (and breaking) resolutions, to making new plans and starting new projects, January brings the hope that whatever happened last year, this year can be different.
While there is a certain amount of list-making at the end of the year—everything from “The 10 Best Android Games of 2010” to “The Worst Fashion Trends of the Year”—we usually forget all that come January 1. Especially in our culture, what’s past is past, and what’s important lies ahead. Overall, I think that’s a good thing.
As my history teachers liked to remind me, studying the past can provide valuable lessons. Yet, there is a difference between learning from the past and wallowing in it. Yes, someone may have offended us. Our cause might have lost an election—or a battle, or even the war. (I get a mental image of the civil war reenactment in “Sweet Home Alabama”—an actual, if somewhat dated, cultural reference!) We might have had a bad childhood, and bad marriage, or a bad year at school. It’s good to learn from mistakes, be them ours or someone else’s.