We Brits live for chattering about the weather. We've had a very warm Winter thus far with temperatures in the teens and constant rain. Today on my walk in the countryside, it was minus 1, the ground was frozen underfoot and the frost was biting through my thermal socks. Every fellow walker I came upon said the same thing: "At last! Proper Winter!" Ours is an evergreen optimism which in spite of everything, never fades. A winter should be cold not some halfway soggy, warm imposter. And despite the grey skies we remain eternally optimistic.
Optimism, that great word which conjures up hopeless and hapless individuals endowed with little else or one who merely sees hope as a type of blessing. We were hoping for a real winter and so when it arrives, we are very grateful. We were hoping that things should be as they are meant to be. We are used to the cycle of nature and the seasons which symbolise beginnings and endings.
A New Year is upon us- what type of year do you wish for? One of beginnings or endings? Many will start the year grasping at resolutions and convictions soon to be abandoned into the slush pile of living. (Resolutions, like diets, don't work because our stamina and resolve eventually collapse.) Others will carry on as normal, or rather, will continue to live their version of the truth, a type of reality they have created for themselves, which they use as a shield because they simply do not want to face who and what they have become. Many more will stay in miserable relationships or in jobs they hate and will flee from their reflection in the mirror. I know quite a few people who have voluntarily become mentally comatose because they do not have the courage to face their reality.
Spring, that other new beginning, will soon follow winter. An acorn does not require courage to germinate into a sapling or even to grow into a mighty oak. Humans, on the other hand, require an inordinate amount of bravery to merely survive. Strength to overcome obstacles, bravery in our beliefs and values which are our own and not just the latest trend, courage to accept the things we cannot change. It takes remarkable fortitude to say: "This is who I am. I know who I am and I will not be swayed."
In a world where at the touch of a finger we can have access to the latest news or gossip, it is very easy to become addicted to the lust for more. More. More. We mistake vacuous celebrities as trendsetters and innovators. even politicians behave like Hollywood actors these days, heroes in their own scripts. We live in an age where it is nigh impossible at times to distinguish truth from fiction. And we're not supposed to go a little nuts? Yes, we can be forgiven for losing our way- that is also the human condition.
Along comes a new year with all its promise of new starts, new hope. The human spirit is designed to triumph in adversity. If we call upon our bravery we can become indomitable and invincible. Brave enough to make the right decisions, strong enough to find out who we are. Today begins the journey of a lifetime.
Happy New Year, everyone!