LION September

Volume 2, Issue 2

Fresh Start

Every thing must have a beginning … and that beginning must be linked to something that went before.” -- Mary Shelley


In literature, wintertime is typically symbolic of death. The plants die, the ground freezes over, the animals go hide in their caves and burrows or they perish. Springtime, on the other hand, is about rebirth and new life. Everything seems to wake up, take a big stretch, and reanimate; the flowers bloom, little sour berries dot the tundra landscape, the seasonal ice cream stands reopen. A fresh start. A clean slate.


That’s a funny term, though, isn’t it? A clean slate. It evokes the image of a chalkboard being wiped clean by a damp paper towel, back to its original deep green color and not the musty grey that it was before. And while it's a nice image, I often feel that its use in everyday language is flawed. What I’ve come to realize is that there is no such thing as a fresh start or clean slate. Even if there were, it wouldn’t be restricted to certain seasons. A clean slate can’t possibly exist, because we will always carry parts of ourselves into new chapters. We might move across the country, change our hair color or nickname, make new friends, get a new apartment... but we’re still us, right? Even if we’ve changed parts of ourselves? The same blood trickling through our veins and snorts in our laughter. We have memories, and opinions, and loved ones who don’t simply vanish when the snow begins to melt in order to make space for the new.


At some point in our lives, we’ll all wish that we could wipe the board clean and start over again, though. We’ll tell ourselves “new year, new me” or “this is my do-over.” But that concept is something that’s also been shrouded in privilege; there are some people in our society who, even if an entirely fresh start was feasible, wouldn’t have access to this metaphorical rebirth. Their past and the paper trail that goes along with it hangs over their heads like a rotten rain cloud. And that’s not fair. But it becomes a little bit more fair if we sit with the idea that we’ll never be the spick and span white walls that we were when we were born. None of us. There are no real fresh starts, no do-overs, no take-backs. There are only second chances, changes, and evolution. And all of us can decide at any point that we want to change. We don’t have to wait until the Spring when the buds start to bloom in order to come alive again and start to grow. So what’s stopping us all from deciding that our springtime is right now, at this very second? And from starting to trudge forward, despite the depth of snow (soon to be) in our path? In fact, why don’t we? I think it would be good for us.


Ready, set, go.


We are featuring three ways to participate in LION this season. We hope you'll be in touch.


*This message was written by Julia Rutherford who is the new Fairbanks Library Vista and workshopped by LION member Bobby Dorton.

Get involved in a LION project

🦁! The Learning Inside Out Network supports education and creative collaboration between people who are inside and outside of Alaska’s jails and prisons. The url address is http://lion.open.uaf.edu