New Beginnings by Jamie Kirkpatrick


And suddenly it’s 2019. It’s high time for new beginnings, new ideas, new solutions. Yet, sadly, we’re stuck in old patterns: a shuttered government, a divided congress, a polarized people. But even if for just a moment, let’s imagine we can create a new beginning, one built on common interests (not partisanship), on hope (not fear), on love (not hate). I know it’s a far-fetched notion, but it’s worth a try.

2018 was a tough year. We lost good people, some to time, others to violence. We bickered over everything. It never stopped raining. Even the stock market that had soared to new heights crashed and burned. OK; there were a few bright spots—a temporary flicker of hope for the Korean peninsula, the Winter Olympic Games, the Washington Capitals, a glamorous royal wedding or two—but all in all, as years go, 2018 was pretty dismal. It sure seems to me we’re ripe for a new beginning.

But if I were a betting man—and Eggman knows I’m not—I don’t much like the odds for a happier 2019. Our government is stymied. Profanities fly. Foreign policy lurches down the street like a drunk. The White House is a madhouse, the aisles of Congress are impossibly wide, and the Supreme Court is turning into a carnival side-show. Financial markets are on a rollercoaster ride. This never-ending conversation about a wall threatens to take an even uglier turn with a presidential declaration of a national emergency that simply doesn’t exist. And lurking overhead are all the shoes in Robert Mueller’s closet waiting to fall.

When I was a baseball coach and one of my players made an error, I would tell him, “It’s OK; turn the page.” Easy enough to say, harder to do. Life is easy when things are going your way, but running uphill requires a lot more effort. The first step is to overcome gravity by believing that change can happen and that the future can sweeten the past. It won’t happen overnight and it will require hard work and sacrifice. The tide will inevitably turn. There will be a new beginning.

The irony, of course, is that a new beginning always requires a previous ending and those have been precious hard to come by of late. It seems there is always another shooting, another wildfire, another resignation, another tweet. We seem to live in one continuous and impulsive moment, an inane run-on sentence without any punctuation or a period. It’s even difficult to know when we’re nearing this crazy symphony’s coda so that we can begin to contemplate a new and gentler movement. It makes for one of those frustrating continuous loops, the kind of bad dream that just goes on forever.

And yet, somehow, I remain optimistic. I guess that’s just my nature. There is always a way forward, a new path, a new beginning. The boat in the photograph that accompanies this Musing sits on a quiet stretch of beach on the west coast of Barbados. As far as I know, it hasn’t been to sea in years, and yet there it sits, promising “jus’ de beginning” we so desperately need.

Take heart.

I’ll be right back.

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015.  A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was published in May 2017; a second volume of Musings entitled “I’ll Be Right Back” will be released in June 2018.  Jamie’s website is

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