Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New Year, New Beginnings, New Books, New Me

'The Old Year has gone.  Let the dead past bury its own dead.  The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time.  All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months!'  ~Edward Payson Powell

Happy New Year everyone! Happy 2012, year of impending Mayan-prophesised doom - or, auspicious astrological alignments and the dawning of a new higher consciousness, according to your inclinations. (I prefer the latter).

And indeed the New Year always starts with a 'snow-storm of white vows', the most important of mine being to be more creatively productive. Specifically, read more books and write more. Yep. Starting from now.

And I've got a good head start. For the holidays this year, I spent most of my shopping time book-browsing, for myself, and for friends, because a book is the greatest gift you can get!  (And by the way, a bookshop experience is oh so more satisfying  than a shopping centre or any other shop really. A bookshop browse in a Christmas rush is like a cooling quiet oasis in a desert sandstorm...) And I've been enjoying  my acquisitions ever since, spending most of my down-time snuggled up by the fire, hopping in and out of all kinds of printed-word worlds - fantastic suspenseful adventure (sci-fi trilogy The Hunger Games), mesmerising  travel writing (anthology of arctic and Antarctic writing The Ends of The Earth) symbolic  seasonal pickings (short story collection A Winter Book), magic, mystery and intrigue  (circus novel The Night Circus) and aww-inducing  relating (endearing quirky love-story The Lover's Dictionary) and pending enjoyment from a whole lot more of course. (Intrigued? Click on the titles to read more ;)

What's Christmas without a good book? There's nothing more delightful than snuggling up with a good book, a glass of your fancy, and a blazing fire, while winter wails outside. I love the escapism it offers, but also the magnified realism. I've learnt a lot from books. About life. About different viewpoints. About how people act and why.  I love how I can enter a new world with a new book and be totally immersed in it, so as everything else becomes secondary. Because the reality the book offers is reality viewed (not skewed) through the lens of the human mind, and focused upon with the full strength of the human heart with every little minute meaning magnified into momentous, all with the intention of making this world a little clearer.

Most of my Christmases are categorised and remembered by what book I was reading at the time. All beginning with Roald Dahl when I was first starting out on my reading journey.  Infact, it was the books I read then that remain fixed in my mind still, not the films or even the (shock!) presents. I remember best sitting with a new book in my lap, palms caressing pages, head peeping in and out of  pages as visitors and games and days whizzed by. These things were transient, the story a permanent presence.

So, that's that, just a hats off to my books this year. I've thoroughly enjoyed poring through them and having my days and hours filled with excitment, adventure, happiness and that great pleasure only books can bring - when a reader personally relates to the story, when the individual psyche meets the collective and sparks of recognition flare.  Here's to a  new year of reading! (Have you read any good books over the holidays?? Please share your experiences here, I'd love to know! What was your favourite holiday read or yet-to-read? Or classic you read every year? Dr Zhivago has always been my choice, but unfortunatley I can never get to finish it, the prose gets so dense like snowdrifts I'm afraid I sink into and freeze into submission.....oh well.)

And before I go, a little toast to the 'new' in happy new year. The new beginnings, the blank slate of the year as it appears to us now, horizon up ahead still to be seen, created, formed out of actions, thoughts, all our hopes and dreams and wishes for the year ahead hanging in the air around us like electricity, waiting to swoop in and be realised "our hopes such as they are/invisible before us/untouched and still possible." Still possible. According to Mr WS Mervin below, our hopes that have not yet been realised, still possible. Yes. (I love the lack of punctuation in this poem - it creates the feeling of freedom, the weightless, restraint-less feeling of being free to do anything we want...)

Read a few novels, write a novel, paint a masterpiece, scale a mountain, go deep-sea diving - whatever it is, now is the perfect time, in the birth of a new year, to do whatever it is our hearts desire. Most importantly, to believe that we can.  And to begin, simply begin. 

May 2012 bring you what you wish from it,

~ Siobhán.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

                                                               ~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.

                                                                                ~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

To the New Year - W.S. Merwin

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible

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