New Years day 2016
I am starting 2016 in a different frame of mind to any I ever remember having before. All my life I have been an optimistic person and I have been grateful to whatever quirk of nature or nurture made me like that. I’d wake up in the morning looking forward to the day ahead, the millions of possibilities all mine for the taking. Even at times when I might seem fed up, that underlying sense of so much to do and discover was always there. I love to be alone, I need it to keep me balanced; but I love people too. I love hearing their stories, connecting with whatever it is that drives them. I have always wanted to create stuff, to describe the world by drawing or painting or writing, and my greatest sense of fulfilment comes from this. But most of my life has been about other things and other people- doing what other people expect and trying to fit in what I want and need as some secondary activity or tertiary or worse. Spreading yourself too thin – if you are creative in more ways than one it is very easy to lose focus- to always move on to the next thing, to hope you will have time for the things you really want to do while spending most of it on others that are enjoyable but stopping you from mastering your craft in any one direction.
I think that to survive we all grow up with a dream of life – we may not consciously put words on it, we may not even know we have it but it keeps us going, the dream of the great relationship, the cottage in the country or some such, financial stability, success one way or another. You have that Belief in yourself, that you can do it, knowing that you are the luckiest person in the world because you have God given gifts and opportunities but here’s the thing- one day some of us wake up and see life without those rose tinted spectacles and see how hard we have worked and how little we have achieved of what is really important to us.
In some ways you have done so much but just not quite enough to take you over the finishing line of your personal dreams for your life, because along the way you are distracted by, let’s say a beautiful garden, and there’s satisfaction and joy in nurturing it.
But then you realise that you are falling behind in the race. So you set off again to catch up and you learn from the obstacles in your path and your strength grows and develops but when you are on the home strait and the finishing line is there in the distance the terrain becomes rougher and broken in parts and you are weary and though you make new plans you do not have the same conviction as before that you will get to the end. You decide to plough on but the easy optimism is gone, the belief that it will all turn out no matter what and so you set off again one last time and this time you see clearly the hurdles you have to climb and you do not look to other people for strength or support or advice because if you don’t find the determination in yourself, the whole fragile mess that is your life will fall around you. This is something of what I feel looking forward towards 2016.
In ancient Roman religion and myth Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions. He is usually depicted as having two faces, one looking back to the year gone by and the other facing forward to the future. I particularly like the one in Boa island in Lough Erne. There’s a strength and simplicity in the primitive carving.
2015 was a strange mixed year – there was elbow and ankle breaking in the house in January and February, the possibility of getting my novel published at last- from delight in January to disappointment in October, when it fell at the last hurdle in the publishing house; there was a series of random events which were good and interesting and that I would never have imagined happening; a summer project that came out of the blue at the end of May and a commission that filled evenings and weekends. I can’t be more specific at the moment due to various constraints.
When September came I was tired and eager to get back to my own writing- a lovely week in Achill to think and develop ideas recharged the batteries. October brought a trip to Budapest and it felt like opening out again to the world, to letting new stuff into the psyche. Passing by the railway station where so many refugees had gathered, fighting for a new life after the loss of everything they knew and worked for, brought a guilt at how easy our lives are on the scale of things.
In the last few months I made a decision to focus on prints, something that seems more and more essential in the struggle to pay the mortgage and have a life. Let’s just say that it was never in any part of the plan to be struggling with a mortgage at this stage of life or to have a failed marriage, or a physical disability that constrains enjoyment of social occasions.
So this is my manifesto to myself, I don’t know yet whether I will post it as it is or post a censored lighter version. If you are reading this know that I have thought about it and decided to post it anyway as my manifest to my self- to my year of saying no, of shutting down everything that does not work for me. This time next year I want to look back on 2016 and see real progress or at least know that there is nothing I could have done differently, that I have been true to my real self.
I read an article over the past week that claimed that you should not tell people your resolutions, because telling gives you an instant sense of gratification as if you have already done it. Apparently some survey showed that people who get that sense of acknowledgement from sharing their plans are less likely to actually put in the work to achieve them. So I am not going to make great claims for myself for 2016. I have some projects in my head, and I am going to work on my dream of travelling more.
But what I will tell you is that I am beginning again on my novel on Monday the 4th January and I intend to write a minimum of 5000 words a week. The figure is not that high because I know I will have some research to do and I don’t want to have unrealistic expectations or make false progress- ie. writing words for the sake of it and then having lots to fill in afterwards. It will be my main project until next June, I think it might be interesting to chart progress in this blog but no promises there. Something of tiredness or cynicism stopped me from writing this blog since September but I’m casting that off now.
These were the words that were important to me up to now-
Tolerance– that awful word- always seeing both sides of the argument, empathising with the other side – No More!
Compensation- always trying to makes things right. Nope, life’s too short.
Generosity of spirit– wanting to please other people- Not that one either,
Scattered, ditsy, optimistic, late, cheerful, guilty, sympathetic, caring…… no, no, no!
All these words and many more are all in the last fire of 2015. Or in Maggie’s famous words. That is out! Out, out out.
These are my words for 2016- uncompromising, stubborn, focused, determined, ruthless.
Yeah, 2016 is all about Me. Bring it on.