Time's Sweeping Day
From "Men, Women and Emotions" by E Wilcox, 1893
New Year always seems to me like Time's sweeping day. Bright and early, like a good servant, he is up and setting the world in order for us. He flings old dates, old almanacs, old account-books, old reckonings into the ash-barrel, and he bundles together all our old worries, our grudges, our sorrows, our fears and gets them ready for the ragman to carry to the pawnshop of the past.
It seems to me the basest sort of ingratitude when we pull open these bundles and scatter the contents over the clean new year with Time has set in such ship-shape order.
What just the patient old fellow think of us when he sees an old thread-bare worry hanging in the hallway which he left spick and span but a few hours previous? And how poorly repaid for all this care must he feel when he finds dusty old grudges lying all over the world so recently tidied up for our pleasure and moist wash rags of old sorrows flung upon the carefully swept floor.
There is something wonderfully exhilarating in the new year to me. It is like a new birth-a new baptism in life. It is like the waking after a Turkish bath, refreshed, clean, strong, vigorous. It is like Monday morning after a Sunday rest and sleep.
I think the world stops in its mighty whirl around the sun on the last night of the old year, shakes itself like a tired horse out of the harness, breathes a long breath, and fills its great lungs full of fresh air ready for a new lunge through space.
On New Year's Day I can feel the new vigor and force which the world has found and life always seems to don a new grace.
It seems to me that every living soul ought to feel on New Year's that there is hope for him in life, no matter how dark his surroundings, how utter his failures in the past.
In one year rightly directed he may retrieve lost fortune, lost reputation, lost happiness, if he will but think and resolve and act. It is no use to regret. The people who sit down and regret their past follies and mistakes are of no earthly use in the world. But the people who resolve to make their past errors warnings for the future may climb to usefulness and success through those very mistakes.
No one (since Christ) has ever lived a perfect life and made no mistakes. To err is but human, and the moment you realize you have erred, the moment you wish you had not made the false step, face the world with a brave heart and realize that you have gained just so much valuable knowledge, and that you are just so much better able to meet the new year and go through it wisely.
Do not, I beg of you, drag your useless regrets into the new year and soil its white pages with melancholy mourning over a 'wasted past' and a 'ruined life'.
No life is wasted while the human soul is still in the body and the brain still able to think and plan. You may be seventy years old and all your past may be a failure, but before you reach seventy-one, you may retrieve your past and bless the lives of all near you, by good temper, kind deeds, forbearance and unselfishness.
I know a woman of seventy odd years who all her life rebelled at her hard lot, and who has embittered the life of many near and dear ones by her constant complaints against the injustice of her situation; she has prayed for death constantly for years, and has imagined herself a burden to all her relatives and friends.
During the last year a great change came over her and from a bitter, sarcastic, unhappy woman she has become a brave, hopeful, cheerful one, and is casting sunshine, joy and brightness into the hearts of all who come near her. Already she has transformed a household by her cheerfulness and courage and she now prays for a long life that she may continue her good work.
If you are feeling ill and believe your health is failing I beg of you turn your back on such ideas New Years Day. Do not drag your aches and pains into the young year, but make up your mind that your body is going to renew its forces this new year. You have no idea how much you can accomplish with this resolution. Do not let old maladies lap over into the new year. Stop talking and thinking about your sufferings and they will leave you, to a degree that will astonish you.
Don't soil the clean windows of the new year with the mud of your old grudges. Life is too short and too precious. Be sure that time will avenge you if you have been wronged. I never received a wrong or an injury in my life that time did not avenge it for me, if I let the matter alone.
I do not believe that Providence is a respecter or persons and it must do for others what it has done for me. Whenever I have stopped to avenge my own wrongs I have always had cause to regret it afterwards and time has shown me how successfully it would have been attended to without my intervention. It is only human to resent an injury and to feel an injustice, but do not stop to revenge yourself, and turn your thoughts away from these things with the beginning of the new year.
If your record of the past year has been ever so full of sorrow, sickness, failure, depression or sin, never mind; bury it all with the old year and turn a brave, smiling face to the new.
The world is kind and there will be more hands held out ready to help you up than there were ready to beat you down, and though you may be at the bottom of the ladder of health, morals and fortune, you may climb to the very top before another new year, if you only believe you can and resolve you will.