I wasn’t going to do a post about New Year, resolutions or plans or anything else this week. Once it’s over, for me it’s over, and there’s no use clinging to it. I hate that people leave Christmas lights up on buildings all through January. (Probably even more than I hate Christmas lights going up in October, but that’s another story.)
We took down our tree, our lights, our cards and decorations on Monday, the last Bank Holiday day. I enjoyed the holidays, but it’s time to focus forwards for me. I have a couple of deadlines coming up, and a tour to plan for the US launch of FOURTH DAY in March. Not to mention the new UK Charlie Fox, FIFTH VICTIM, at the same time.
Plus I have a load of email to catch up on. I managed to drop a particularly sharp carving knife through the side of my index finger between Christmas and New Year, which bled profusely and stopped me being able to operate a keyboard or mouse with any kind of ease. Thank goodness for SteriStrips!
We used some of the time on the run-up to the holidays getting some finishing-off jobs done on the house. You know, the kind of things you think you’ll get around to when you’re building, but actually get left and left and left. It feels good to finally have some order.
We’ve even used up some scrap lengths of 4x1in timber to make some outside planters for the garden, thus not having to either get rid of the wood, or buy expensive planters. That’s my kind of recycling.
This early spring cleaning has inspired us to have a thorough de-clutter, going through piles of paperwork that have been gathering dust bunnies to rival a German Giant in corners of the office. And for those of you who’ve never seen a German Giant Rabbit, here is one:
I suppose I’m just at the stage where travelling light is starting to look very attractive. I don’t want any more STUFF. In fact, getting rid of a lot of stuff seems like a good idea. Actually, I’ll qualify that. I only want useful stuff – and by that I mean stuff that I have a regular need for. Thus the cast iron sizzling plates somebody bought us as a gift about seven or eight years ago, and which we’ve never actually used, can go. Over the next few weeks and months, we aim to shed clutter, mental and physical, a little bit at a time.
Wait a minute, this is sounding dangerously like a resolution, isn’t it?
I hope not, because I read a news report that said the average New Year’s Resolution lasts about a week. Today’s the 6th. That means by this weekend the vast majority of good intentions will have tottered their last few steps and collapsed in a pool of apathy. Which is rather sad. I suppose the best time to talk about NYRs is the end of January, to see which ones have survived a month at least. But in fact we just tend to look back at the end of the year and mourn the ones that didn’t make it through.
And all that does is create dissatisfaction and discontentment.
I’m not a religious person, but ever since I discovered Max Ehrmann’s remarkable poem, Desiderata, many years ago, it has struck me as a good guide to life. If I can try and follow it some some extent this year, I’ll be a happy bunny.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble, it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. Let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
This week’s Word of the Week (for no other reason than I like the sound of it) is stumer, which is a Scots slang term for a counterfeit coin or note; a forged or worthless cheque; a sham; a dud; a failure; bankruptcy; a horse sure to lose; a stupid mistake; a clanger; a stupid person.