Threshold

Every day is its own threshold. We need to hold on to the hope that today will be better because we can make it so.

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The ancient Romans celebrate Janus, a king of Latium for his piety and elevated him to the gatekeeper of the Gods, making him god of doorways, thresholds, beginning and endings. Janus gave his name to January, the first month of the year that we have inherited from a Roman calendar. Janus is represented as looking both forward and backward observing both sides of a boundary, understanding that each threshold is both an end and a new beginning.

The wheat leans back toward its own darkness,
And I lean toward mine.

James Wright, Beginning

We rush through many boundaries in our daily lives without Janus’ careful reflection. Everyday, we awake to a new day and a new range of possibilities, but often we head straight back into the routines and the challenges that we have become accustomed to managing. It takes reflection to stop on a daily level and to look for what can or might need to change. The most productive people build these small moments of review into their everyday life.

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

For many of us, such reflection is only an exercise that flows from a major boundary, perhaps the end of a weekend, a holiday, or the start of a new job, or a change of team, city or office. We need to treasure these times to reflect and to choose what we want the new day to be. Our agency will shape how the boundary is crossed and what becomes of the future.

These major transitions can be times where much becomes uncertain and unknown. We have the same degree of uncertainty each day as to what exactly will happen and what might change but we rarely perceive it so intently we pursue our habitual lives. However, at the bigger junctures our stomachs can fill with nerves as we pursue the might bes and the threats of all that is new across the boundary.

In these moments, we need to retain our hope. We need to take comfort in our agency and our capacity to lead the changes that are needed to whatever circumstances come our way. Fear will not help us. We need to combine a passionate optimism for our capabilities and the potential of others, with the frank certainty of pragmatism and realism. That’s the path to make each doorway a winner. That is also the path to validating our own unique potential to contribute and be productive.

You remind me of the necessity
of having more hope than fear,
and of sounding out terrible names.

Alice B Fogel, The Necessity

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