At the beginning of every New Year there are high levels of optimism that the world and its inhabitants will get over themselves and use their time and energies to make the world a better place. Pipe dream alert!
It doesn't take long for things to get back to normal and that means the fun-suckers and guilt-trippers will kick the shit out of any optimism or sense of joy. There is little room to feel good because, as ever, repetitive bad news hogs the headlines and anti-social media stirs the cauldron amidst claims that now we all have channels for our voices and opinions, we can vent our spleens and get stuff off our chests in the mistaken belief that anyone really gives a flyer. Social media can do an awful lot of good but it is being hijacked by an awful lot of awful. Coming off it periodically for a meditative sabbatical really is good for the head, heart and soul. (A guru speaks!!)
January is the month when a tsunami of experts, sages, bandwagon jumpers, snake oil sellers and celebrity bullshitters swamp us with advice on what to eat or not, what to drink or not, how to keep fit, how to think and behave, sorting ourselves inside and out. Books, DVDs, TV programmes, newspapers and magazines all offer a mixture of wisdom and whizz-dumb. Gyms are joined and fitness equipment sales peak and a hell of a lot of money is wasted on both. I read at the weekend that the health authorities have this idea of putting the whole nation on a diet. Good luck with that one.
There are way too many doom merchants around - the aforementioned fun-suckers and guilt-trippers.
Politicians are supposed to lead and inspire but, sadly, for the next generation there is not one, not one who can inspire and lead they way they should. They have brilliant skills at bitching and spitting bile, at verbally assassinating each other and stoking up as many things as possible for us saps to worry about. The one skill they all need badly is to learn the art and value of shutting the hell up. I am reminded of the 1970 hit Ball of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today) by The Temptations and that is exactly what our so-called leaders love. That was 1970. What have we learned? Barry McGuire gave us Eve of Destruction in 1965. Again, what have we learned?
But, all that said, gold is where you find it and in amongst all the detritus, there are stories of wonder, of achievement, great books being written, wondrous poetry and music being created. When all the misery starts to eat away at optimism, I retreat into a world of books where a simple phrase can inject an instant shot of delight, or into a world of music where I can retune (as it were) and recharge my rhythms, melodies, harmonies, timbres and tones.
Unlike spectacular New Year firework displays that provide moments of glee before dying, the living, breathing, eternally illuminating creative arts provide an anchor in this heaving ocean of life. Cherish them. Enjoy them. Reclaim the fun.
We still have 11 months to make the most of this New Year. Be happy.