This glitzy 2016 is appropriate for the day. I truly wish a happy new year for the world and most especially for the people I know and care about. Long ago I was told that people react to their names -- of course that's a very old idea. We know there are name ceremonies in many folk traditions and that in some groups a person has a secret, personal name that is not revealed to others. I suppose my last name, "calender" has me pondering on New Year's Eve and on birthdays, mine and others. Ponder I do, and have as long as I remember. I rarely go out to parties or such on New Year's Eve. I assess and mediatate and throw the I Ching - a very long time habit.
I feel it has been a good year for me; good health, some accomplishment, a sense of being very creative in many ways that is extremely satisfying, a kind of harvest of many years of learning to write and quilt and, laterly, especially write poetry. If this is the autumn of life, as I tried to say in a quilt I made this fall, it is a colorful and beautiful one.
Not so for the world in general. I have difficulty thinking about all the awful things I read and hear. I find the terrorism, whether the extremism of ISIS or the home grown madness of random shootings, of police shootings of, often, unarmed people, and the bigotted ugliness of the Republican candidates for President, depressing and stupid. Meanwhile the weather around the world, the degradation of our natural resources, including the seas themselves is awful for the human suffering already happening and the increase in suffering it is bringing.
I have been thinking about "Dover Beach," Matthew Arnold's despairing poem that tends with these painful lines:
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! For the world which seems to
To lie before us like a land of dreams
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Has really neither joy, nor love, nor light
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain,
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
That was a hundred years ago; it is still true. I can only agree with his first ten words (and the exclamation point) -- we must be true to those we love, to those we care for in any way. We must live with love and kindness despite the state of the world. We can do very little, one at a time, to influence the ignorant armies that clash by night. But we can do all we can to make the small world around us a place of refuge and peace. We can resist the hate and bigotry that seems to be infesting so much of the world and of our country.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!