When I was little I was so confused… I understood the New Year’s Eve new year–the new number made it real. But there were other new years that people talked about, new year at school, a new year at Rosh Hashana, and a new year for me on my birthday. I recall the time in about the second grade when I finally understood the mystery of all the ways we count off [all the different kinds of] years.
As an adult in Boston the new school year is pretty salient–parking gets more scarce, pedestrians travel in clumps and get a little more brazen, crowds grow, and at least one student-driven U-Haul hits the low overpass and backs Storrow Drive up for miles. Ahhhh! The autumn has arrived.
And I have come to appreciate the idea of two formally recognized new year celebrations. On Rosh Hashana reflection is encouraged. I usually gather with friends for meals, we go to synagogue, chat and hang out, usually without television or other diversions in observance of the holiday. There is challah and brisket and candles, apples and honey (if you have not tried it, I recommend it!), and gratitude for another year together. We are quiet, but appreciative. It is a 10 day period of reflection on the last year (which we are currently observing), a look toward the next year and an exercise in envisioning your next year.
You guys all know how the December 31 new year celebration goes–the bigger the party, the better. This one is about celebrating, turning the page, and creating temporary, but annoyingly large, new crowds in my gym.
Both have their function. I appreciate both opportunities.
In the midst of this I have been consciously marking my own year. From birthday to birthday, with my 365 Project. Every day a photo of myself that I have to take. Through this process I have learned a lot, so much more than I thought I would. First, it is an exercise in appreciation. I love my job, but many days it is solitary endeavor. There is not so much that is obviously photo-worthy going down… How many images of me editing shoots can you really be subjected to? So, in planning for these pictures I have had to examine the small but important happenings in my day–sometimes it is easy, other times it is tougher. Second, it is an exercise in self-acceptance. I don’t look great in every photo (ironically, when i am taking photos of myself I often forget to smile–and sometimes blink!–because I am so busy making the camera work right). Third, there have been many happy accidents and lots of learning. I allow myself to do things with my camera in this project that I can adapt to shoots, but might not have been brave enough to without this practice. Fourth, I don’t have very many shirts! Since I am not out and about every day, I have cut back on the wardrobe and that means lots of repeats in the photos. Finally, while I was sure the project would be a record, I am already amazed at how much more salient it makes my year’s memories.
So, in the spirit of the new year–however you define it–here is a peek into some of my favorite photos from my 365 project (you can see all of them here):