In his recent Christmas message, Brendan Cox the widower of murdered MP Jo Cox, cried out for tolerance and more caring between people. “We have more in common than what divides us, it’s a time to reach out to those who hold different views” he said. Is this the only option left to us all after such a negative and frightening year of change? To try to hold out for hope, loving kindness and refuse to accept intolerance and hate? He kind of put the importance of my current New Year reflections into perspective.
I don’t normally make resolutions but I have for many years now chosen a word to guide my year ahead. In 2011 when my Dad died during Christmas week, I chose the word Light. For the following year I created a photography project seeking light wherever I could find it. Sunrises, windows, those shafts of sunlight in the interior of dark country pubs in summer. Light was my guide. It helped me to grieve.
Last year, I chose the word Ripening. It was probably to ease my feelings about the reality of ageing. Someone joked that the next step after ripening is rotting, but even still, I savoured the concept of ripening all through last year. Ripening implies, softening, sweetening and an organic process that can’t be rushed. I made some self portraits and began to explore the beauty of the wrinkley, the flawed and the freckly. As you can imagine this is a work in progress!
So right now I am contemplating what my word for 2017 is going to be? It’s a big year for me in some ways as I’m taking a years leave of absence from the day job. I don’t remember when I last had this kind of time stretching out ahead of me. Maybe the closest thing to it is the beginning of the school holidays when the days seemed to stretch out ahead forever.
Whenever I tell someone about this plan of mine to take a year off they usually say, OMG that’s what I would love too!! It seems many of us are burnt out and dreaming of a break. My secret anxiety is that I won’t be able to fully slow down at all. That I will angst about everything that I “should” be doing or end up drinking endless cups of tea and watching daytime TV……”The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good (wo)men to do nothing.”
There are three things that I am contemplating in choosing my word for 2017. Firstly it is how to practice loving kindness and do no harm. Secondly, as I have no idea why we are here or what this is all about, I think we might as well knock some fun out of it. Thirdly, it seems that life is increasingly short so I want to grasp and live every tiny moment no matter how insignificant.
If I start to visualise the level of my insignificance I get dizzy and have the need of a seat belt. We are all in constant crazy motion. The Earth travels 940 million kilometres around the sun every year and is itself also rotating at 30 kilometres per second. Any quest to find a guiding word for 2017 will have very little influence on either the speed or the quality of the Earth’s next trip around the sun!
Open your heart, get to the heart of the matter, warm the cockles of your heart. I change the direction of my thinking and I listen to the thumping of my heart. It beats over 100,000 times each day as it pumps 2,000 gallons of blood every day around a blood vessel system 60,000 miles long. That’s long enough to go around the world more than twice! If the Earth’s rotation is a miracle then surely each of us with a beating heart is one too? I think I’d like to have a word for 2017 with heart in it.
So I’m toying now with the word heart; wholehearted, heartfelt, openhearted. Whatever it is I do, say, undertake, create, write, feel, explore, seek in 2017, maybe could it be infused with more heart? I look it up in the dictionary-the word heart comes from the latin word for courage. Speaking from our hearts then is a form of courage too?
I will muse on this and keep you posted. But I think wholeheartedness can only help to guide me in everything I want to explore in 2017. You are welcome to jump on board and choose your word for 2017. Who knows where it might lead you.