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Serendipitous Insight on the New Year from the Novel, Anxious People

Updated: Feb 25, 2021

By Fredrik Backman

Call it “Literary Luck”

Sometimes, I read something that, by coincidence, is perfectly timed with an upcoming holiday. Occasionally, what I call “literary luck” strikes, and I get a new perspective on a current trend from the book I’m reading. Once in a while, I read a passage that smacks me with wisdom connected to a particular day of the year.

My timing was perfect. I finished reading Fredrik Backman’s novel, Anxious People on December 30th. Right before the turn of the New Year, I gained a bit of serendipitous insight. Backman pulls no punches in reminding me that we are not just what’s happened in the past. We are also what we choose to make happen in the future:

“They say a person’s personality is the sum of their experiences. But that isn’t true, at least entirely, because if our past was all that defined us, we’d never be able to put up with ourselves. We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrows.”

Good Advice For the New Year

Seems like perfect advice for starting a new year. It’s not just the past that matters; it’s the future, too.

No matter what happened in 2020, (and we all know it was a doozy,) we can be better next year. The future awaits. The trick is to keep that feeling of fresh starts and not to let the hope of each new day dissipate into mundane acceptance.

“The new year arrives, which of course, never means as much as you hope unless you happen to sell calendars. One day becomes another. Now becomes then.”

Anxious People reminded me that I don’t want to ignore the potential for change in 2021, nor let a day go by when I’m not trying to make good choices.

No matter what was in the past, each new day gives me a chance to choose my future.

woman making choices about her future

Read more like this in Book Talk.


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