Even though we know it’s kind of artificial – just a date, just a line in the sand – there is nonetheless something hard to resist about a new year.

It’s partly that Janus thing, looking back, and looking forward, which invites us to mull and consider what might yet, even still, be possible.

I think it’s partly that we can grasp the size and shape of a year, and see how things might be, how we might be, if we committed to something in chunks of 52 times.

I too have succumbed to the lure of the new, and find myself with some lifestlye changes I want to make. The ones that are of the stopping sort seem to be the easiest (for me, just now), requiring the least effort of will, and prompted well by the change in the date (this is the time I will flick the switch, just like that).

Starting new things is appealing and gives you that feeling of a fresh start… until the necessity of keeping them going kicks in;-) (And yes, this is a week into the new year, and some new and shiny things have already fallen by the wayside here).

I think it’s in the long-term keeping going though that the real learning is to be found.

I have certainly experienced this in relation to a very long term and absurdly hard work project: to learn another language (Gaelic). For the last few months I have very much been in learning plateau stage, and however much I google it and comfort myself that this is a known part of the language learning process, and you just have to keep going. I won’t deny, it’s hard.

It pushes you up against doubts:

* why am I spending time, energy and money on this?
* is there any point to this? (and does that matter?)
* will I ever get there? where is there anyway?

Some of these are old familiar friends to anyone who’s engaged in a creative project, and I have my own ways to dodge past them (or learn to walk alongside them).

I also find myself up against more interesting and ultimately fruitful territory about how I learn – the kind of approaches and activities that allow for new connections and ahas, and those which don’t.

I’m also reminded that in some things, and language learning is definitely one, pure effort, pure will, doesn’t generate results. You need to keep on exploring gently, lightly, creatively, to find what works (what works for you.)

two trees on blaeberry hill

The reason I’m sharing this is that pretty much all of what I’ve just written applies to my journey with photography too.

I suspect it’s probably true of any long-term practice, where the rewards come in peculiar ways, perhaps not in terms of ‘results’ (and indeed, at times, your results will appear to get worse), but indubitably so in terms of what you learn about yourself, and about what seems to matter, even if you can’t say why, and about why it’s good to keep on keeping going.