Monday, 31 December 2012

"Old long since" - The eve of a new year

"God said: “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years, and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth.” And so it happened: God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night; and he made the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw how good it was. Evening came, and morning followed."
(The Book of Genesis 1:14)

I shall be working this New Year's Eve, until around 11pm - I'm grateful for it and would rather be earning than not, whatever the time of day or year! But I'm mindful of the significance of this evening, and tomorrow's dawn. I won't be one of the very hardy Brighton eccentrics who traditionally take to the sea in the January wind and rain on New Year's morning. But I am enough of a Brighton eccentric to want to walk down to the pier and along the pebble beach in wellies by myself tomorrow morning; it's one of the practical pleasures that drew me to this city in the first place.
Beyond that, I've resolved this year not to make New Year resolutions as such: I'd rather concentrate on what I need to do to enable what I want to happen in my life. Oscar Wilde said that resolutions at New Year are: "simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.” I've learnt a lot about myself and the people around me over the past year; some of it, I've even liked. I'm hoping to grow to be more accepting of the things I don't readily like or even acknowledge. At the end of any day, not everyone will or should like me; but then only I have to be comfortable in my skin as I settle down with my cup of Redbush and an unseemly large piece of treacle tart. For someone who's spent most of her adult life dreading criticism about their clothes, this is progress. 
I realise that since starting this blog in February, I've surfaced as a kind of hybrid of Anne of Green Gables and Mrs Doyle found reading The Guardian on a long train journey. Luckily, I'm partial to all of these ingredients. It may not have been quite what I was expecting, or indeed everybody's cup of Redbush, but I believe it could have been a lot worse.

"May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours, 
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow wind
Work these words of
 love around you,
An invisible cloak 
To mind your life." 
(From "Beannacht - A New Year's Blessing", by the late, wonderful John O'Donohue)

"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)

"The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul."
(G.K. Chesterton)

"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right."
(Oprah Winfrey)

"New Year’s Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual."
(Mark Twain) 

"For last year's words belong to last year's language And next year's words await another voice."
(T.S. Elliot)

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year."
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

"No one ever regarded the first of January with indifference. It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left. It is the nativity of our common Adam." 
(Charles Lamb)

As a longtime fan of Robbie Burns, I love "Auld Lang Syne". He wrote the poem and set it to a traditional folk tune in 1788, yet it endures today across the English speaking world; at funerals and memorials, graduations and farewells and of course on New Year's Eve. The Scots title translated into English is simply "Old Long Since"; days gone by.
I care not a jot that it's been done to near death by any performer with half a tonsil, nor that Burns probably plagiarised a couple of 16th century folk songs to construct it: it is remembrance and rekindling in all simplicity. Included below is probably my favourite version, sung as Burns would have wanted to hear it.

"And surely you’ll buy your pint cup
and surely I’ll buy mine! 
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet, 
for auld lang syne. 
And there’s a hand my trusty friend 
and give us a hand o’ thine! 
And we’ll take a cup o' kindness yet, 
for auld lang syne."

"Auld Lang Syne"  Paolo Nutini
Personally, I wish you all everything that you would wish for yourselves, but also every blessing and good thing that you may not know you yet require. May you wake tomorrow knowing your own name and those of your truest friends. If  you cannot give a name to God, may you be at peace with those who do, whatever that name may be. Be as good as you can be on any day, believing that both you and the world can be better still tomorrow. I hope your journey this past year has brought you closer to yourself and shown you that you can allow yourself and others a little more kindness in the next one.                                                                                                     Slainte, Namaste and God Bless X                                

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