On the eve of a new year it is too easy to be excited about the prospect of a ‘clean slate’ but this premise unsettles me as it is a recurring theme amongst many people these days, it would seem. 

The familiar song by Scottish Poet Robert Burns; “Auld Lang Syne” was a call not to celebrate the coming new year but to honour the friendships we have enjoyed in the past. It begins by posing a rhetorical question as to whether older events and relationships should be forgotten but is generally accepted to be a call to remember the good times and the people we shared them with. 

Far from being a time to rejoice at the opportunity and make plans to better the status quo (and one’s self) the general consensus often seems to be a vitriolic lynch-party to despatch the old year for whatever reason. 

This seems to be, for me at least, quite a sad state of affairs given that each year begins with the same fresh hope time after time. What is it about us all that allows such fervent intentions to go awry during the year to the extent that we are usually quite glad to see the back of it? 

Perhaps some of this comes from the sense of a ‘new beginning’ which is always a liberating experience - even when the preceding events have been successful. However, I would contend that the celebration as it stands is little more than an opportunity to, in effect, gain absolution from the things which we found unpalatable, uncomfortable and unacceptable. 

There was a time when I was filled with optimism and good intention where I would embrace the new opportunity with great relish and sing heartily with the others not knowing the full significance of the words of ‘that’ song. But, just like every year, I would often find myself looking back on December the 31st with a degree of contempt and a resolution to make the coming year a better one than the previous. 

Obviously, there were years when this was largely true but I believe that in all of our lives there exists a ciarroscuro of emotional wealth and value which has to be taken on board as being part of the rich spectrum of being a sentient living creature. 

I don’t think it is possible to have a life which has a recurring succession of positive and wonderful things, events and people in it. For all of us it is a mixture of the great and terrible almost without exception. 

For my own part; I can confirm that my life is a bi-polar mix of wonderful and dreadful things. On the one hand I have learned some wonderfully rewarding new skills, such as: the science of radio and how to repair ancient electronic equipment. I have written over eighty thousand words of script for a comedy radio series which I adore (and in the process have brought joy and laughter to many). I have been blessed with the company and communion with my elder daughter and my beautiful grand-daughter (a situation I never imagined possible). 

On the negative side, however, I have seen my health deteriorate due to stresses of daily work, I have begun to feel the constraints of becoming older and I am all too painfully aware of my inclination to drink too much when I really shouldn’t. I have learned to cope with the grieving I feel at having my youngest daughter leave my home and neighbourhood to live far away and the ongoing sadness I bear having my eldest son now living in another country. And, finally, I have experienced greater financial poverty than I have ever done. 

Oh sure, there are more positives and negatives which I could mention but I believe that these few examples provide a sketch of a year which - on the whole - was neither ‘here nor there’. It was simply a year of my life and for that alone I am deeply grateful. 

In spite of my attempts to be ‘jolly’ this time of year is always one of great sadness for me and this year has been no exception. I have felt an undercurrent of melancholy throughout the whole period of this festival of lights and I am uncertain as to why that might be the case. 

I know that for my part, the ghosts of Christmas past haunt me with a vigorous intent and I cannot help but be reminded of my own, long gone, parents and dear family members but perhaps more significantly: my youth which is slipping through my fingers at a rate which I care not even to think about. 

As for the coming year of 2014? well, as Patrick Moore the great astronomer would say: “well, we just don’t know”. The march of time always has a habit of throwing something unexpected into the mix and whilst we are all saying: “let’s make the new year the best ever”, you can be certain that something will come along to rain on your parade at some point to make you be glad to see the end of it by this time next year. 

Or maybe not. Perhaps if you are lucky then just maybe the coming twelve months will bring you success and happiness in abundance. And, if the words of the song are to be valued then I wish you a year to look back on in such a way as to emphasise the greatness of it all and not the misery. 

I wish you well. Not because I want to rattle off a good old stand-by phrase but because I believe in aspects of karma. If we all wished the very best for each other then life would be such a better place to be than the monotonous drudgery which the internet would suggest it always is. Or as Charles Dickens put it: “do as you would be done by”. 

I’m trapped in the wrong dream.
A nightmare that somebody’s having.
And every day my strength dies away; the giver and the given.

No one sees my pain.
No one knows my sorrow.
Nobody hears the dread that I feel, at every new tomorrow.

It’s a lonely road.
Not quite sure where I’m going.
And the weight of the rain that is falling is stopping me knowing.

When is it my time to crumble?
When is it my turn to fall?
When will I get the chance, to be so incredibly small?

Crushed like a snail underfoot.
Lost like a drunken night’s promise.
Tired of the climbing this hill all alone, if I’m honest.
~

But I carry on. Yes, I carry on
Because I have to. I need to.
There’s no other way; there’s another day.
Can I carry on? Can I be that strong? Forever.

(A work in progress)