Saturday, December 31, 2016

Another Year

We landed in Brisbane 24 hours late, because a set of plane delays had made us miss the flight we were meant to be on, and I started fading away during the drive out here. (I wasn't driving. I was entertaining Ash, mostly.) By the time we got to the house I was gone. I need to sleep, I thought, and isn't it odd that in such a hot part of Australia in high summer it is so cold that I'm shivering...

And then I was mostly asleep for 3 days, with a fever caused by something that was probably a really nasty flu. Then it became a chest infection. During the short waking periods I would read volume 3 of Henry Mayhew's LONDON LABOUR AND THE LONDON POOR.

Three days of fever dreams filled with Guy Fawkes Men and Penny Mousetrap makers was entertaining, but it wasn't getting better. So yesterday evening, I went in to the Woodford Festival to see the doctor there. By luck, I caught the song Amanda dedicated to me, then went home, took the medicine, slept, woke up, thought I really need to write a blog for the New Year, and went straight back to sleep...

Which is why I'm writing a New Year's wish on New Year's Day. Although it's New Year's Eve still in the US (and in the UK as I type this, but it will already be next year there by the time I post it).

It's been a strange, hard year for so many of us. I find myself thinking of the old Jack Benny radio shows. Particularly during World War Two they'd do a new year's sketch, where the old year (played by Jack, with an old man voice) would give advice to the new year (played by a child). They weren't funny: they were a mixture of hope and sentiment, optimism, realism and resilience.

We are going to need all of these things in 2017.

For this year, the words are Leonard Cohen's, someone that 2016 took from us.

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

...I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.

And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple.

And it's this.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

From 2012, terrified but trying to be brave, from backstage at a concert:

It's a New Year and with it comes a fresh opportunity to shape our world. 

So this is my wish, a wish for me as much as it is a wish for you: in the world to come, let us be brave – let us walk into the dark without fear, and step into the unknown with smiles on our faces, even if we're faking them. 

And whatever happens to us, whatever we make, whatever we learn, let us take joy in it. We can find joy in the world if it's joy we're looking for, we can take joy in the act of creation. 

So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.

This is from two years ago:

Be kind to yourself in the year ahead. 

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It's too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them. 

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.


And, because Death took so much in 2016, I'll give her the final word. (It's from the 911 short story "The Wheel" with art by Chris Bachalo.)