Column: The Gift of Janus

The first month of the year is the kingdom of Janus. It is a stopover, an annual break in which it is customary to breathe together and individually. As pathetic as the past year was, I see the first few weeks of January as a time when it is possible to look to the future with optimism.

The god Janus represents the change that is inherent in every time of the beginning or end as well as the passages. Modern society is characteristically reminding consumers and the alert public of this need with a constant flurry of advertisements for weight loss programs, tax software, household linen, lingerie, and gym memberships.

An illustration of the god Janus from the book Illvstrivm introduces itself,, published in Rome in 1517 [Wikimedia Commons]

After the flood of appeals for donations from various charities in December before the calendar turns, we need a place to pause. The hectic pace of shopping for last-minute gifts, followed by a race for the same gifts in the final days of the year, leaves many exhausted and in need of consolation.

Since Janus symbolizes a time of inner passage, I enjoy my time at the intermediate station similar to the last moments shortly before leaving an automatic car wash. The pause of maybe twenty or thirty seconds while the fan turns a simple wash into a crystalline polished surface is an exquisite moment. The balance point lies between two identical and opposing urges: drive off quickly when the door opens to be able to drive in the next car, or pause even longer to enjoy the freshly cleaned car, the sun hits the window pane as it is only with New happens to cars or freshly washed cars.

This year it was a little different at the beginning. While the world still feels broken and wounded, I have a hope that was missing in early 2021.

I use the interlude that Janus offers to cleanse the palate of 2021 by thinking about what worked and what victories there were. It is too easy, in turbulent times, to dismiss the happy and good times during our 365-day stay, which we call a year of complaints and memories of misery. I count the medical crises friends and family members survived as gains, despite the devastation in various aspects of the health system.

Jazmine Sullivan’s song “Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)” from her album Reality show (2015) reflects the path each of us is treading to move from the negative aspects of 2021 to 2022. When she sings the words, “While the sun is shining on all my glory, my faults don’t look so bad” all, “I remember how the year 2021 uncovered many shortcomings; nevertheless we are resilient as humans. We will not give up. We bind our injuries. We continue.

I see hope, grace and optimism as the core of the current year. Wynonna Judd’s “Rock Bottom” from her album tell me why (1993) sets out the choices for each of us: “You have two options: straight up and sideways.” In 2021, some of the “great resignation” joined by quitting their jobs outright or simply choosing a new one To take direction.

Like others in the past, I’ve chosen the sideways path as a safe option; However, it is never too late to change. The decision to move forward or indulge in stagnation remains entirely our own. The gift that Janus brings is this happy time, when not only reflection, but also a blueprint for positive action is possible.

While it is important to celebrate the external successes in our lives, it is also important to acknowledge the internal growth that we have achieved. Many in our larger pagan, pagan, and polytheistic communities work with or come from environments where there are intrinsic inadequacies in self-love and self-comfort. The stresses of life during the pandemic may have opened wounds in ways we did not expect.

Over the past two years, I’ve found that recognizing how we’ve treated ourselves well and how we’ve changed for the better in our relationships with others strengthens our inner self-esteem muscles. This type of acceptance works like isometric exercises for our emotional, psychological, and spiritual muscles. I’m proud of the limits the pandemic has placed on me, partly because I simply have the time to really focus on myself instead of acting like a perpetual motion machine where I put my own needs last.

This is a difficult admission because, on the surface, things appear to be fine. Build-up over time sticks to the soul like the main drain pipe we take for granted. We expect it to work with very little attention until there is a back toilet or clear water area around the clogged main drain, usually at an extremely inconvenient time.

The quiet moments leave time for internal debridement and tidying up, which may not occur in hectic everyday life. We all go through life trying to figure it out and we have a choice whether to look at the year 2022 through a clear lens or a cloudy lens. Optimism blossoms when we see a clear path. This path may not be easy or desirable, but if we consider the choice between going up or sideways, it might be the best.

New Years Resolution 1915 – Wikimedia – Public Domain

Many choose to make resolutions for the secular New Year. I see advertising banking on this practice and the reality that such promises may go away in a couple of weeks, conveniently after signing up for a gym membership, weight loss program, or lessons we won’t have time for. The rush to change everything about us at once can leave us paralyzed and unable to move forward with our intended resolutions.

Instead, how about creating three resolution categories with only one item in each category? What would happen if instead of promising to lose weight, get in shape, quit smoking or drinking, go vegetarian or vegan, and get our finances in order, we simply cut one of them out of our lives? What if we decided to go vegetarian or go vegan to start with? What if we looked at a point that we did well in 2021 and that we will continue to do?

Moving forward in a spirit of positivity and optimism means recognizing what we are doing well. Sometimes this can seem difficult, or even culturally incorrect, for a variety of reasons. First, it’s far too easy to see what’s going wrong through the lens of everyday life or to wish we’d done better.

Second, like many others, I grew up in a family where it was humble not to brag about one’s strengths; By and large, you’ve just got on with life and used your talents for the good of your family and society. The expectation of public recognition of individual strengths is a more common phenomenon in the recent past.

This is a time to come up with something that seems easy to come by, like the ability to do something with your own hands, such as building furniture, crocheting a sweater, or painting a portrait. Maybe you cook well, have patience with young children, or master puzzles. We all have strengths; they are often invisible to us because we use them so well that they are second nature to us.

As we head into 2022, we can embrace and enhance the power we find or rediscover to keep the flame of celebration going.

After all, the pandemic has made clear the long-term mental health implications. Our thoughts influence our feelings, which guide our actions. Sometimes this is a conscious move; at other times it is unconscious. Current and current pressures affect what and how we are motivated to take action in the form of goal pursuit. If we take the time to review our immediate past of 2021, we will be ready to venture into 2022 with faith and hope.

In less than a week we lost two beloved icons, Betty White and Sidney Poitier. Masters of a craft that conveyed emotions and powerful messages to a global audience, their work on television and in films made us laugh, but they also forced us to think about uncomfortable topics. Although White, like Poitier, is known for her animal rights activists beyond acting, she was an individualist: both actors negotiated their professional lives in the daily support of many causes, including civil rights. From the last letter in his book Life without measure: letters to my great-granddaughter (2008), Poitier noted the following, which sums up where we are now in the world: “Hope is the eternal tool in mankind’s survival kit.”

When we accept the gift of Janus, we have the ability to reflect on the past while looking to the future with optimism and positivity. When we choose hope, we loosen the shackles of fear and anxiety that are remnants of our memories of the past year. I think of the car wash and those thirty seconds to stop in the car. When we let the calm of the year 2021-2022 flow over us, all we have to do is sit down, take a deep breath and let the fan do its job.


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