What shape of year suits you?

In my diary, the year is a rectangle, months as boxes.

For me, I realised, a year has to be round.

The circular shape of the year goes back a long way – all the way to my first school and the posters on the wall there. I remember the poster of the Alphabet, arranged in lines of 5, and the breaking of the pattern with the extra Z in the last line. I remember learning the alphabet, chanting it as a class, naming the letters myself, and trying to recall them without looking. I remember how the first line was easy, but then the lines got harder and harder, with quite mysterious letters in the last two lines – to me as a child, reciting that alphabet was like following a path that gets gradually overgrown and tangled, until it finally opens out into the light.

The calendar poster was next to the alphabet. It showed the names of the 12 months arranged around a circle, like a clock, with the seasons overlaid on the months. But it wasn’t until a few years back that I thought much about this early visual learning.  Wanting to plan forwards into the next year, I paused to think more deeply about how I wanted to do this. I realized that the boxed, rectangular planning felt uncomfortable, somehow incongruent with how I wanted to think about the year. That’s when I remembered the classroom poster and how I had learnt to know the seasons and the year, how the months moved around the circle, down from January to June and July at the bottom of the curve, rising up towards my birthday in September and Christmas, how one year changed over to the next one at midnight on the clock and on the calendar.


That day I took my paints and painted a circular year in my journal. It felt like coming home to a shape that resonates with the rhythm of my living, and helps my planning. I come back to my circular year every so often to take stock and see what’s coming up, to decide whether I’ve left enough quiet time between the commitments. I seem to see it more clearly this way.

Is there some aspect of your life that might work better if you saw it differently?

Lynne CameronComment