Turning Over a New Leaf

I have been thinking about the phrase “new beginning”. Isn’t this a tautology? Beginnings are always new, no? I am now looking beyond the redundancy of this phrase and am starting to like it more.

A “new beginning” is full of emotion, passion and gusto. The word “new” does it. It is a fleeting moment in time, and we all love something “new”. A new toy, a new car, a new city, a new house, a new job, sometimes even a new partner. And when you couple “new” with “beginnings”, we are left with more possibility and more hope; we are alive and ready to tackle this “new beginning” and all the excitement it will bring us.

And if we want to have all these possibilities and hope, how do we introduce “new” into our lives? After all, we can’t really go around changing and buying “new beginnings” our entire life?

I recently had a drink with a friend, Adrian.

“Great to see you Adrian. What are you up to?”

“A new beginning for sure! Let me tell you all about it.”

Adrian just quit a very successful career and is going back to study something completely different. He estimates it will take him at least 6-years to complete this course, more than likely 8, and hopes to build a career when he is finished. Chronologically, he is not young but mentally and physically, he is younger than most, extremely bright, intelligent, driven and focused. Full of possibility and hope, he is alive and ready to tackle this.

I asked him what else was up with his life and he had a lot going on. Regardless of topic, he spoke with his eyes wide open, every single word laced with possibility and hope.

“How do you do that?” I asked.

“Do what?”

“Just be so enthusiastic about everything.”

“A-ha. Time my friend.”

“What do you mean?”

“A few weeks ago, you blogged something with a quote from Thomas J. Watson, former chairman and CEO of IBM – If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less-than-excellent work.’ You commented about how this made you feel, realising that you had no excuses for doing ‘less-than-excellent work’. So, you changed the way you viewed excellence and that has given you the life that it has given you.”

I could not believe he had read my blog but there you go, flattered!

He continued, “It is the same with time and I will give you a quote from Arnold Bennett, an English novelist and playwright:”

“The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.”

Now, I could not believe he recited this quote from memory (for the record, I had to search for it).

  • ’You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose’. Think about the power of that sentence. It is your choice. ‘You cannot waste time in advance’. Whatever happened in the past is done, but the next year, the next day, the next hour are waiting for you without judgement. And when you understand this, you realise that everything you do in life, regardless of what it is, brings forth a ‘new beginning’.”

I needed another drink. I had to digest this.

  • “I think I get it. If you believe this idea of time, it is hard to not be full of possibility and hope,” I volunteered.
  • “That’s it. If you believe you have control over the excellence of your work as Mr. Watson said, and you have control over how you perceive and treat time as Mr. Bennett commented, you are set. By the way, did you know that at the Savoy Grill you can have the Glazed Omelette Arnold Bennett, made in his honour? A bit rich but absolutely divine if you add truffles to it!” he said.

We said good-bye and as I walked away, I thought about all the “new beginnings” in my life. Plenty of those. And I thought about the other beginnings that did not feel that “new”. And wondered if I applied Bennett’s notion of time, whether they would feel a bit more exciting, full of passion, emotion and gusto?

I don’t know but I will try. And even though I can’t remember Bennett’s entire quote, “you can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose” has done wonders for me so far!



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