Saturday, January 22, 2011

Happy New Year

Not a wish, but a fact. ¡Qué bien!

Now then, Fate, God & Mammon, though not necessarily in that order.

Part the First

Last year was... interesting... For me, pivotal, I think. I'm a slow study, but I usually get there eventually. And now, I'd say I'm there. First year of rest of life. This year should be... interesting... !

Last year? Seven or eight months of sorrow, worry, frustration, anger and loss inextricably entwined with new certainties, closer relationships and budding contentment, lived in an atmosphere of deepening economic gloom and W.T.F?!?!?! social uncertainty. And it was a good year for the air industry too...

By the end of August, I'd quietly reached the point where I wouldn't touch a newspaper, period; or read any novel unless I'd read it before (ideally at least three times) and could therefore trust it to soothe - or unless it came in a reassuringly ChickLit candy-coloured jacket with an improbably thin and perky cartoon Twenty-Something nipping across the front with Betty Boo eyelashes, Cherry Lips lips and a designer carrier bag, blithely confident that her cut-out-perfect Jackie O bouffant hairdo would protect her if the huge, embossed alphabet-soup-style title and author's name dangling above her should tumble and fall - as if it possibly could!!

But October brought good things, fresh hopes, new energy. November did not disappoint. And December: December was wonderful. Perfect. Perfect! And now we've got a shiny new year to play with, and I feel so good about it. I would say, 'Bring it on!', but let's not tempt that stuff that goes around, just in case it decides to come around again.

Part Deux

I mean. 2010. How many grim events and developments can you actually fit into one year? Boom-time for examining entrails and planetary alignments, given that neither Jehovah nor Mammon have quite the cred they used to.

I'm leaning towards Zen by now, though this may be a symptom of advancing years. History presents several got-it-alls who arrived in their middle years, looked around and chucked it in (a variation on 'Turn on, tune in, drop out.', I reckon) for something less-is-more; or at least discovered a hole in their lives that wealth and power could not fill. (I don't think I've reached this stage yet!)

Even so, there's Siddhārtha Gautama, the prince who founded Buddhism.

And Chandragupta Maurya and grandson Ashoka the Great, first emperors of a united India
with gratuitous photo of Shah Rukh Khan in the 2001 film. (Any excuse!)

Ooh! And Spain's own Felipe II. Only known in Britain as Mary Tudor's husband Philip, this is the man who had El Escorial built - palace and monastery.

Somewhere to get away from it all.

I'd love to believe in God and an afterlife, especially now that people I love have started popping their clogs like there's no tomorrow - which unfortunately, I believe... sigh...

However, I've always liked this poem by Arthur Hugh Clough,

"THERE is no God," the wicked saith,

"And truly it's a blessing, For what He might have done with us

It's better only guessing."

"There is no God," a youngster thinks,

"or really, if there may be, He surely did not mean a man

Always to be a baby."

"There is no God, or if there is,"

The tradesman thinks, "'twere funny If He should take it ill in me

To make a little money."

"Whether there be," the rich man says,

"It matters very little, For I and mine, thank somebody,

Are not in want of victual."

Some others, also, to themselves,

Who scarce so much as doubt it, Think there is none, when they are well,

And do not think about it.

But country folks who live beneath

The shadow of the steeple; The parson and the parson's wife,

And mostly married people;

Youths green and happy in first love,

So thankful for illusion; And men caught out in what the world

Calls guilt, in first confusion;

And almost everyone when age,

Disease, or sorrows strike him, Inclines to think there is a God,

Or something very like Him.

Ah well. Just have to wait and see, I suppose.

Of course, the likes of Ashoka and the Buddha are probably outnumbered by The Men Who Would Be King, Emperor or President for Life. And women who want shoes! shoes! shoes! (or ingots) and are prepared to take the rough:
Mr Philippines 1965-86 and Mr Tunisia 1987-2011

for the smooth:

Anyway, although I like shoes almost as much as the next girl, and wouldn't object to having a couple of ingots in the bank, 2010 was a year made for stocktaking, and I did. And 2011 shows signs of being a year for building, and possibly a little light tree-shaking. At least in our small corner of the multiverse.


In his (1966) speech Leary stated:

Like every great religion of the past we seek to find the divinity within and to express this revelation in a life of glorification and the worship of God. These ancient goals we define in the metaphor of the present — turn on, tune in, drop out.

Leary later explained in his 1983 autobiography Flashbacks,

'Turn on' meant go within to activate your neural and genetic equipment. Become sensitive to the many and various levels of consciousness and the specific triggers that engage them. Drugs were one way to accomplish this end. 'Tune in' meant interact harmoniously with the world around you - externalize, materialize, express your new internal perspectives. 'Drop out' suggested an elective, selective, graceful process of detachment from involuntary or unconscious commitments. 'Drop Out' meant self-reliance, a discovery of one's singularity, a commitment to mobility, choice, and change. Unhappily my explanations of this sequence of personal development were often misinterpreted to mean 'Get stoned and abandon all constructive activity'.

So now we know!

P.S. I just came across an old blog post, from September 2008. What a difference a couple of years make.

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