I took some time in my "looking back" mode to read a few blog posts from last year. Funny, but things don't change much. I have pretty much the same idiosyncrasies, the same opinions, and the same struggles I've had for a long time. This comes as no surprise--indeed, I kinda like it (except the struggles part; it would be nice if some of those would go away). I tell my students sometimes: "I've been doing this since before you were born. I know what I'm good at, and what I'm not-so-good at, and they are not likely to change. Sorry." (Usually this is in response to being reminded that I am slow when it comes to grading papers.)
Last year at this time, I was lamenting the fact that I had dropped off in my running and study time at year-end and relishing the prospect of a fresh start and a new DayTimer. Sound familiar?
I read somewhere that pretty much all the great movies have already been written: The Magnificent Seven was originally a Japanese film called The Seven Samurai. Gladiator is just Braveheart in a different time period. The Mighty Ducks is just Rocky with hockey. (OK, there is a pretty big quality gap between those last two.)
I actually like that. It gives me some comfort to know what Solomon said, that there is nothing new under the sun. And also to know that smarter, better people than me have often already figured out the right answers to thorny questions a long time ago. That's one reason I read old books and biographies of great men. An example: I saw a message board post a while back where some person (probably a college-age kid) was asking what he thought was a serious question about places where the Bible seems to contradict itself. I don't think he was looking to pick a fight, I think he honestly wondered if this called into question the whole veracity of scripture. Turns out that a medieval philosopher named Peter Abelard (if you've ever heard of the love story of Abelard and Heloise, he's the same guy) successfully tackled that topic in a book called Sic et Non (Latin for "Yes and No") almost 800 years ago. Obviously, there are plenty of fields still being explored (nuclear physics, for example). But a lot of the stuff we worry about is really old news.
So, a new year is coming. I'm going to enjoy the new parts (never had a kid start driving before) while recognizing that it's not that scary (others, including my own family have done the same successfully). To everything there is a season (Solomon). Turn, turn, turn (Pete Seeger).