It’s been many a century since the Romans assigned one of their gods to watch over each month, and they put Janus in charge of the wintry first month of the year. Ol’ Janus, you might remember, is the two-faced deity that looks in both directions. And January, his namesake, often demonstrates that ambiguity with a variety of weather to keep us guessing, most of it frigid. But some years, after a spell of sunny days has stirred spring vegetation awake, Janus turns his other face and there goes the peach crop.
Unfortunately, we mere humans are also subject to the Janus syndrome. We like to think we’re tolerant: then somebody steps on our ego. We like to think we are forgiving – but what about that old grudge? We like to think we are generous; then, somebody takes our parking space. And we like to think we’ll sustain our youthful vigor and pursue our youthful lifestyle with that same youthful intensity. Yeah, right.
By now, we’ve hung a spanking new calendar on the wall and have probably made a resolution or two. Eat less, exercise more, talk less, listen more.
How about bury that grudge? Forget that trivial insult before it festers and ulcerates; forgetting can be the genesis of forgiving. Do a small favor for a friend, better yet, for somebody we can’t stand. Each “random act of kindness” pays dividends that tend to buoy up other issues. Put up with others’ thoughtless behavior, little stuff that does no real harm except grate on our nerves. We can’t reprogram offenders, just our own reactions.
Donating those don’t-fit and seldom worn garments to the homeless (after making sure they’re clean and wearable) gives the closet breathing space. Generosity pays both ways.
Cut a little slack for the slacker parked in that clearly marked wheelchair stall. Some health problems don’t show. Walking from the next-best location makes us healthier than some expensive pill and might help a guy who’s even worse off.
Finally, we must all accept the infirmities that accompany the decades, then make the most of the years yet to come. Dwelling on what we can no longer do – say, thread that impossible needle, dance with the stars – does nothing to improve the situation. Furthermore, our serenity infuses those who value us for what we have done, what we can still do, and who we are.