New beginnings come and go. We find them in our daily routines, Monday mornings, Friday afternoons, breakups, makeups, in good times, and in bad. They come every spring with sunshine and every September with schoolwork. A fresh start—a time to gather our thoughts and organize our future actions—implies that we have acquired some amount of hindsight. When we start anew, we are equipped with the hindsight of past successes, and more importantly, past failures. We have learned, or so we hope, what works and what doesn’t. From there, we embark on a new goal whose completion we believe will undoubtedly be riddled with far fewer obstacles. At least that’s the way that we think it works—if I overcame that, I will surely overcome this. Life will eventually be easy. One day, I will not make mistakes.
However, the way that life works, there can be no journey without a challenge, no success without failure, and no learning without failing. We find that when we are given a fresh start, this second chance may not always be what we hope for it to be—it is not a re-do. We are not be able to erase things that we said, rewind bad days we had at work, or raise last semester’s B to a B+. We can’t go back and mend broken hearts or glue together the pieces of a has-been friendship. Fresh starts are not do-overs.
Rather, a fresh start means a chance to move forward. We find that with the conquering of old challenges come the obstacles of today—that just over the wall we climbed to get to “here,” lays a mountain. We must not be so near-sighted to merely focus on the wall and fail to see the mountain, nor can we be so far-sighted that with our gaze upon the mountain, we run headfirst into the wall.
A fresh start is much less of a new journey and much more of an extension of our last journey. Our new beginnings must be the road to the mountain that was only made traversable by conquering the wall behind us, and our “clean slates” must not become erasures of what has shaped us, but merely become a larger board to write upon.