“Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you,” are legendary baseball player Leroy Satchel Paige’s oft quoted words.

Back when I was a glass half full person, I might have found Paige’s verbal warning to be a bit gloomy- the idea of something gaining on me just over my shoulder. But now, when all about me seems to be uncertain, I’m scurrying to put some distance from whatever might be behind me. Satchel Paige’s mantra is just the right sentiment to mark my transition from the old year to the new.

My once upbeat end-of-the-year perspective has been tempered by life experience. That knowledge that everything can change in a flash- bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, a Category 5 typhoon in the Philippines swallowing more than 6,000 people. And I’m no longer surprised when reality easily trumps fiction- even when that reality is a shocking scenario of three Cleveland women held hostage in a house of horrors for over a decade.  

The superstitious say you should greet the New Year with a clean house, not just clean floors and dust free furniture, but an emotional cleanup.  

As poet T.S. Eliot observed, “To make an end is to make a beginning. For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next years words await another voice.”

In these few days between Christmas and the start of the year, I’m working to end well so I can start fresh.  I’ve got plenty of time for quiet reflection now that I’ve thrown away the false promises of New Year’s resolutions. Why didn’t I know long ago that a resolution without commitment is an empty exercise, bound to send me into temporary self-hatred?

Instead I’m re-framing the whole New Year/New Expectation thing by taking a moment to list some of things for which I am grateful. New Year’s Eve I’ll put on the pot of the black eyed peas, crack open the champagne and look forward.

This time, though, I will do a lot more living in the moment. Satchel Paige understood this long before the experts talked about mindfulness. 

As he reminded the frenzied folks around him, “I never rush myself, see, they can’t start the game without me.”