Janus – The Two-Faced God
January, named after Janus, is the two-faced God who watches the past in one direction and new beginnings in the opposite. The New Year forces us all to reflect on the year that’s past and the year that’s about to begin. It becomes a time of absorbing what’s happened and to embrace the possibilities that the new year might bring. Some of us make resolutions; get fitter, eat more healthily, don’t curse as much, be more forgiving etc. etc. but ultimately many of us are looking to change something (or looking for a change).
Having a birthday in January forces that reflection more forcefully I think. Not only are you having to contend with reflecting on the year, but turning a year older (and having just had a significant birthday), you’re also dealing with age and scrutinising your losses and gains much more harshly (“I’m X years old, what have I done with my life so far?!” kind of thing). For the first time, I was abroad at the turn of the year in search of some winter sun and to top up my tan and serotonin. The change, I think, has done me good.
When I was younger, I used to play this ‘game’ at various points over the New Year/birthday examining how little my life had changed. I thought it saddened me, but on reflection, I think I quite liked the security and stability of it. Between July 2000 and August 2015 my life was more-or-less the same. I almost knew what to expect each year; there was a pattern, like the (actual) four seasons. Of course there were details such as learning to drive, buying a home, holidaying solo, falling in love etc. etc. that couldn’t be predicted, but it’s fair to say my life had a routine and that was a great comfort to me.
Like a cat, routine is what I needed to enjoy my life. For me it symbolised comfort and stability and perhaps was something I craved. Sometimes my thoughts – my life – would feel chaotic and I leaned towards living a life like an Asian-melodrama. The routine of getting up early and going to school for 15.5 years helped stabilise and quieten the louder, less predictable elements of my life.
From August 2015 things dramatically shifted for me and now my life is almost unrecognisable. My shell is the same (albeit, older), but internally I know I’ve changed. And not just that, my environment is totally different to the one I’d complacently rested on for such a significant number of years. And now, I definitely can’t predict what my life will look like in six months, let alone ten, fifteen years from now; the changes are a-plenty! This terrified me initially; like having to swim without armbands for the first time – there was no system in place to hold me up, so if I collapsed, I collapsed.
I occasionally watch live TV and ‘Still Open All Hours’ was on one weekend. I remember watching the re-runs of ‘Open All Hours.’ When I got my shop, I would muse on how the clear-up at the end of the day was really enjoyable; therapeutic even. I’d make reference to the show and how there was comfort in the process at the end of the day; like a much-loved chunky jumper. There’s a quiet satisfaction in a physical, visible close to the day; Arkwright clears up and the voice-over reflects on the exchange of stories (a form of mindfulness) with regulars and newbies (in my case with tales of (rescued) cats and kittens). There’s closure at the end of each day; it’s refreshing, reassuring even.
This year will be different for me; different from the year just gone. I have no real point of reference for what it will look like; perhaps ‘Open All Hours’ should be it(?) I do know though that having no scaffolding, the future is both terrifying and exciting. But I have the routine I need and the unpredictability I’ve started to crave in running FurCats. Irrespective of what might happen, I’m hoping Janus is looking optimistically in the direction ahead.
Whether you’re looking to hold onto stability or are embracing a change and adventuring abroad (like my good friend Adam) or staying put – here’s to a happy 2018 and positive new beginnings.