Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

2011

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on December 28, 2010

   January 1, 2011, a focal point for weight loss, exercising more and spending more time with your family, in that the turning of the calendar creates hope for renewal.   As with my earlier post, https://shirahvollmermd.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/new-years-resolutions-a-psychoanalytic-perspective/, this is the time of year where one can pretend that “those things are now behind me,” as Leslie, forty-one, said referring to the fact that 2010 for her represented the ending of a very painful four-year relationship. I use the word pretend because January 1st does not make the pain of Leslie’s relationship any less than it was on December 31, and yet, the changing of the calendar supports this notion of a before and after experience. The human mind, with all of its complexity, seems to need to reduce the emotional interior to a simpler notion of an empty slate. The fantasy that we can start again, be it a new job, a new school, a new relationship, contradicts our understanding that we take ourselves with us wherever we go and as such, the past lives in the present. The confluence of past, present and future, all relevant in any given moment, creates anxieties and tension. Eliminating the past, or the wish to do that, can temporarily minimize anxiety, but at the cost of mental shallowness. Embracing the past, however painful, allows for a deepness of thought, a compassion for others, and an acceptance of oneself. So, as the calendar turns, I want to remember the past, be excited about the future, and embrace the moment. Indeed, that is my hope for all.

4 Responses to “2011”

  1. Shelly said

    If we embrace the past and live in the present, how do we have hope for the future? How do we learn to have hope?

  2. Jon said

    While, indeed, the turning of the New Year is somewhat arbitrary (both the astronomical solstice and the modern calendar mark distinctions of sorts), I agree that it does give a wonderful time for reflection. It is a time to embrace Aristotle’s concept of the contemplative life. This contemplation allows for us to follow your good advice and “remember the past, be excited about the future, and embrace the moment.” It is a time of memory, a time of hope, and a time of celebration. May we turn contemplation in action, and (again following Aristotle) action into happiness. Happy New Year to all!

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