The first day of the new year, as I sit in it, is pale grey. Light diffuses through the rooms from overcast skies, lending shadows to the usual corners, and providing softly brighter patches on walls as windows catch and bend whatever meagre offering has osmosed from the hidden sun. It’s cool, and though wrapped in blankets and be-woollen-socked, I can feel the chill pooling in my fingertips as they tap-tap-tap, spilling thoughts once more through the wires and outward to journey…where? To you, I suppose.
I pause, as the still air slips beneath my collar and runs a cold finger across my shoulders, making the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I watch with mild amusement as goosebumps weave their way down my arms, and I stop typing to lift my mug of tea, wrapping my hands around it, luxuriating in the residual warmth. The heavy mug slides between my hands, smooth sides on dry skin – nothing gripping, except my thumb, hooked through the lime-and-white loop of the handle, preventing a mishap.
It’s a fabulously ugly mug, won in a party game my sister organised, so many years ago I can no longer recall the occasion. Its bright green interior clashes with every drink it holds, and it unabashedly presents a repeating pattern of chunky, basic swirls (in dischordant tones of sunshine, cobalt and tomato) to the world. I tip the last of the rooibos down my throat, savouring the rich, honeyed taste. I’ll be drinking a lot more of it soon, and though it’s not my favourite, I’ve come to appreciate the flavour and take comfort from it (which is really all tea need ever provide).
My eye wanders to the vase in the centre of the table, which holds the brave remnants of a glorious bunch of flowers sent to me by my 1000mile heart. Previously a luxurious winter rainbow – a floral tribute to friendship – it has diminished with time. Carnations still glow like rubies in the dull light, and the chrysanthemums bravely thrust out the last of their shaggy, ember-bright orange heads. Wilted petals droop disconsolately on the blooms which have given up, yet at the peak of the bunch, fronds of bud-bubbled ‘greenery’ reach eagerly towards the window, one or two having burst, gloriously small, into spark-yellow beauty.
The water is slightly gungy with time, still encased in lead-crystal, but fresher for having had an influx this morning of new water poured on old. I recall how it swirled, lightened, and will provide a boost to the struggling bunch. Life, all life, encapsulated there, in that one vase (if we choose to see it); topped by an artifice of glittering red berries and sparkly plastic fronds, yet the whole all of it a gift – beautiful, given freely, with love.
Memories of last night well up, their imagery rich with open fire, delicious nibbles, the smooth click of Scrabble tiles, and the knowledge of home and belonging. Each thought is bordered with sadness at sudden reminders of the frailty of life, and the never-knowing of it – the manner in which any day might be turned on its head for better or worse – how our worlds can alter in a trice. Or just stop, whilst the other players of the game continue, oblivious, discovering later that everything had shifted without them realising, and that things would never be the same again.
I’m peripheral to this sorrow, but affected still, and I wonder whether this new year of many words (as I was told – a blank, 366 page book, in which I will write my life’s story) will contain more sadness than joy; more anger than happiness; more trial than triumph, or quite the inverse. I wonder how my yet-unseasoned soul will withstand the rigors of frustration, impossible dreams, and hopes which are already spun-sugar brittle along their shining edges.
My heart rolls long-suffering eyes at my mind, and overflows a little Deep Magic into the now-chilly core of my being: whatever else happens, there will always be Love. Whether the connections are forged through words, shared experiences, blood-ties, or happy accident, there are people in the world who have chosen to love me. The knowledge of their acceptance, understanding, and affirmation, pours into the gungy waters of my soul, swirling and lightening it with fresh hope poured on old.
I reach for my second mug of rooibos, feeling its generous heat seep from palms to wrists to elbows, the brew soothing across my palate before sliding down to warm my centre with fragrance; with comfort; with steadfast determination that there will also always be tea. I stop and wait for inspiration to strike as the warmth recedes and the cold strengthens its grip. I’m reminded that I’ve chosen this. There are always options, but this is the one I’ve picked, and change – amorphous, still-conceptual, and indescribably huge – is on the way. Change; my only constant. I’ll be okay.
So let me tell you my words for 2016 – the concepts/life-choices/characteristics I want to absorb and display, diffusely, through clouded skies, or emblazoned vibrantly across my being, glittering under glorious sunshine.
‘Becoming’, in and of itself, is far too huge a word to keep restricted to one year. I want this as the theme for the rest of my life, with sub-sets of words or intentions to take to heart and consider, mindfully, in individual years. I no longer think that there will be a pinnacle – a point at which I survey my world and think “I’m done” – but I hope that I will move ever further Onwards and Upwards, my people alongside me as I evolve.
Adventure: because life is full of half-spun plans, shrouded dreams, and dazzling opportunities. I’m determined to reach out and embrace the possibilities, with all their thorns and rosebuds, to see whether those brittle hopes can be gilded into realities before they shatter. Inherent in this word is the resolution to strive; to explore; to push doors and boundaries; to do everything I can to happen to life, rather than waiting for it to happen to me.
Resilience: twinned inexorably with ‘Adventure’, I know paths to true anything rarely run smooth, and that I will need to dig deep beyond my comfort zone to reach the grit and gumption I assume I have dormant within me. I will fall, I will get back up, and regardless of outcomes, my plan is to have tried. Perhaps this is after all, the attitude I need to adopt: to try, and know that failure is not the end, because there will always be another chance and a different pathway.
Footprint: something I intend to lessen as time goes by. It’s begun with purging and moving house; learning to ‘live light’, treading gently in realms to which I am welcomed, yet to which are not my permanence. It will continue with adaptation and the hope of unshackling from all but the most necessary of Stuff, whilst endeavouring to find security within the bonds of love and friendship. It’s manifesting as the decision to go vegan – a frustrating resurgence of allergy forcing me to acknowledge that I can live (and live well) without milk or cheese – that I’m more comfortable if more aspects of my consumption align with my ideals. It’s the hope that in all my choices I refrain from obnoxious militance, yet fight tooth and nail to stand alongside those in whose hearts my footprints will always be welcome.
Love: because we need it – we are always stronger together, and are meant for relationship. We are better and more truly ourselves when we’re nurtured, encouraged, and affirmed – as we are, and who we will be. Love grants us security to reach out into the unknown, offering us the assurance of acceptance; the knowledge that we are wanted and have a place of belonging. Love gives us our centre and fills us to overflowing, enabling us to cascade the *twinklysparklygoodness* to others, rendering us effervescent and attractive; drawing towards us those who likewise cherish the concept that #LoveWins. Love gives us roots and wings and every other muddled metaphor which strives to encapsulate the manner in which we, in all our mess and magic, have a place in someone’s heart.
Glitter: always. Tacky, ‘craft-herpes’, and an indulgently irritating-but-nonetheless-delightful aspect of my world: I send it literally or figuratively, to remind you that you matter to me, and to wish you sparkling brightnesses amidst your commonplace. I’m committed to glittering whenever I can, leaving shining trails which call you Onwards and Upwards as we foray into the future together, all hoping to improve and embetter; all preferring for Good to occur; and that we should be bringers of positivity, finding our own worlds rendered brighter and more lovely by those we choose to share them with. There will always be glitter.
I hope that you will likewise find purpose in the year ahead – ways to seek positive change and be the gold. I hope that you will know love, laughter, and good writing. I hope that you will realise dreams and take new pathways. I hope you will be challenged, excited, and determined. I hope you will know Love, friendship, and good reason to get out of bed each day. I hope you learn to be kinder and stronger than ever before. I hope that you will continue Becoming the best version of yourself, and I hope that you will let me walk alongside you, in the capacity that makes sense for us, for as long as we choose.
Happy 2016, my lovelies.