“What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year.” ~ Vern McLellan
It’s a touch late, but happy new year to each and every one of you!
Um… I mean, I think…? That’s what I’m supposed to say, right? “Happy new year”. May 2021 be prosperous for you and your family! May all your dreams come true! Blessed be, and may the Lord be with you, and warm wishes… and so on…
But doesn’t it feel so damn empty this time around? Happy new year? What’s “happy” about it?
I’ve avoided writing a blog this side of the new year until now because… well, honestly, I had no idea what to say. After the year we’ve all faced, the terrible hardships imposed on us, the trials we have been navigating, the losses we have survived, what is there to say? Rolling off the usual trite well wishes seems like a slap in the face. The resolutions to better our minds, bodies, and souls ahead of a year of plenty have been supplanted by the critical desire – no, need – to see and look after our loved ones after being separated for weeks or months. Career milestones have been replaced with a desperate scramble for whatever employment people can get. This coming summer will mark two consecutive years of kids not being allowed to take the exams that play a big part in their next steps into adulthood. “Happy new year” might be the saying, but are we really all that happy?
I’m reminded of a quote from one of my favourite childhood adventures:
“Good Morning!” said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.
“What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”
“All of them at once,” said Bilbo. “And a very fine morning for a pipe of tobacco out of doors, into the bargain.”
~ Chapter 1: An Unexpected Party, The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien
In this greeting, Gandalf is being his usual ambiguous and (dare I say it) facetious self, and we go on to discover the many facets of his fantastic mind through the coming tales. This particular quote, however, has been tumbling through my mind all day for its resonance with my thoughts about this new, confusing year we are now facing. Am I stating that the new year is a happy one? Or that I expect, or hope, it to be? Am I wishing you a year that will be happy? I find myself wondering, is “happy new year” a statement or a wish?
Arguably, it is both.
I, of course, wish you all the happiest possible year to come, wherever you are, whatever your situation. Undoubtedly, we will continue to face many ordeals, as a planet, as a nation, and as individuals, but I truly hope you’re able to make the best of the circumstances you’re in, even though the living nightmare continues for us all.
Bilbo didn’t allow himself to be fettered by Gandalf’s unusual interpretation of his greeting, he simply declared the truth as he saw it: he believed it was a fine morning to smoke a pipe on his doorstep and he wished the same happiness to anyone that crossed his path, regardless of what they thought on it. He had no clue that two days later he would be rushing out of his front door into the wild unknown, facing evil untold on a quest he didn’t really want to be a part of; he simply wanted to enjoy the sunshine and wish blessings upon those he encountered. My aim is to carry a little of this blinkered positivity into 2021 with me, and I wish the same for you. There may well be evil untold in my future, or yours, or all of ours, but it is not here yet and if we can hold onto some of the happy certainties in life, perhaps – just, perhaps – the bad days will feel a little less bleak.
As a closing note, I ask you one simple question: How are you? No, really. Deep within, at your core, despite the mire of social propriety we wade through daily, how are you? I know I’ve been struggling in recent weeks, and I imagine that is the same for a great many people.
With the horrors that continue to occur around the world, as well as on our doorsteps, it’s all too easy to push our own needs to the bottom of the priority list. Before we know it, we’re wallowing in a deep hole of our own making, desperate for a way out as we dig ourselves deeper. It’s more important than ever that we give ourselves time to breathe, and heal, and rest. Make time for yourself when you can because self-care is vitally important to both your mental and physical health. And self-care doesn’t have to be yoga, and meditation, and spa days, and holidays, and all the other ways social media would have you believe are the only ways to look after ourselves. It can be sitting with a cup of tea as you read a chapter of a book. It can be walking your favourite footpath on your lunch break. It can be weeding your flowerbeds, or listening to your favourite album, or simply taking a nap. Everyone’s needs and tolerances are different, so why should our coping mechanisms be the same? I only ask that you be kind to yourself, whatever that looks like for you.
I’ve been trying to limit my screen time as much as possible since before Christmas, a new habit I am forming for the sake of my own mental health, but please know that I will always be on the other end of a message for anyone that feels like they are struggling. I make no promises that I’ll know the right thing to say or have the right advice on how to move forward, but if you need to talk, I am here to listen.
I wish, hope, and pray for a happier and healthier year for every single one of us.
Love & light,