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Posts Tagged ‘New Year’

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot

The_Little_Engine_That_Could1Anyone reading me for a while knows I have no great fondness for the changing of the years and the obligatory omphaloskepsis that accompanies the calendar flip it requires.

Not only does it mean more thinking about time and its passing, causing an infernal hesitation before jotting dates on checks and documents, it stirs shit that has taken 364 days to settle uncomfortably to the surface and forces contemplation of said shit.

In the grand scheme of quantum quandaries linear time doesn’t exist, an idea rejected out of hand by our puny biological built-in chronometers, so just try moving your head beyond the day-by-day plodding that can only feel to us like a train moving along a straight stretch track and hell-bent on a final destination not to be found on any map we know of.

Pausing at stations along the way is an illusion, as the train is always moving, and always in the same direction. It may seem we’ve dallied, stepped off to enjoy time on the platform, but it’s all just part and parcel of the ride.

Accepting that, we ignore the train and try our best to focus on the journey. Throwing ourselves into our personal odysseys (and occasionally under the train … bus … whatever …) and using our imagined stops along the way to gauge the distance traveled and judge progress feels natural to us, so that’s what we do.

Being confronted by the timetable on a regular basis hits hard though, and once a year there are few ways to avoid the slap upside the head. The turn of the page from one year to the next shows us an indication of how far along the track we’ve traveled, and the angst in our baggage is prompted to contemplate every stop we didn’t make, how much we have added to our load, how much we’ve lost, and how long we’ll keep moving.

Some choose to imagine an engineer in control, some expert that guides the trip up and down mountains, through tunnels and avoiding obstacles along the way. It’s handy and alleviates responsibility, but the fact is we are all driving our own trains; storms, fallen trees, rusting components, precarious terrain are ours to deal with as they happen; there’s no reversing and no stopping until the end is reached. It is for us to navigate, to face decaying bridges in the dark and make necessary repairs to keep the damned train moving.

Personally, I find it much easier to calibrate myself with a new timetable when the track ahead appears to be clear. Once again, though, that’s not the case with the flip from 2015 to 2016. I know what’s behind me, but have no idea what’s ahead, and if there is a light at the end of this tunnel I just hope it’s not the headlamp of another train set to derail the one I’m driving.

In preparation for contingencies, I’m trying to work out a strategy.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

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And ye, who have met with Adversity’s blast,
And been bow’d to the earth by its fury;
To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass’d
Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury –
Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime,
The regrets of remembrance to cozen,
And having obtained a New Trial of Time,
Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen.
~Thomas Hood

Although an arbitrary demarcation of something quantum physics says doesn’t exist, there’s no denying the impact of the turn of the year on the fragile psyche of frail humans … okay, on the fragile psyche of this frail human — new years freak me out!

New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

There’s something more than unnerving in the idea that one year has just gone by in an eye-blink, that a whole bunch of stuff happened in those twelve months, much of which deserves rumination, and this morning I teeter on the cliff edge of yet another that will pass as fast and present as much … or more … I’ll have incorporated into my history this time next year.

Yikes!

I have great hopes for 2011, even some plans, and this morning a determination to make this one great year. Of course, those are precisely the thoughts I had on New Year’s Day 2010.

For the third year running, life is in tumult with so much out of my control that simply hanging on is about the best I can manage. Sure, I’ll plod along day-by-day doing the things that need doing, avoiding pitfalls I can see or sense and spend no little energy visualizing the desired path, but after the last couple of years know only too well that at any moment I could hear that brief scream that signals incoming.

I’d like to think I’ve learned enough to trust only the trustworthy, love only those who deserve my love, chose only the best options available … as Tennyson said:

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Amen, Alfred. And I’ll be greeting true with open arms if I recognize the fucking thing.

If all goes well, 2011 should be a year of change … big, positive change seeing me having wrestled back some control, moved house, simplified things considerably and set up comfortable circumstances for me and the kids that will provide enough security to allow stepping back from the dance on the rim of the precipice and a chance to gather strength rather than squander it in anxiety and the depleting efforts of fighting for every fucking step.

Of course, the reality is that we only have so many of these new beginnings, and there’s always the chance the last one was the last one. That would be quite disappointing. I very much hope there’s time to reap rewards for hard work, that my last love was not my LAST love, that seeds sown come to fruition. Conversely, however, another year like the last few … well … I’m not so hot on that.

Today, there’s no way to know if it’s “a kindlier dozen” ahead, more of the same or something even more diabolical. Experience tells me thoughts of “it can’t get any worse” are utter nonsense and there is no guaranteed swing of the pendulum shifting from crap to contentment, but there is hope.

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot

So, the old year is over, the new has begun … it will bring what it brings and be dealt with as it unfolds. I will do what I always do — plod and write — and January will turn to February and Cj will be six in April and Sam will be nine in November and another year will be added to the outbox. I will seek out joy, love my kids, treasure my friends, embrace adventures and hope and hope and hope.

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day. ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

My sincere wish to all that 2011 fills your book with joy, love, kindness and peace …

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