Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld Acquaintance


"Without change, there can be no nostalgia"


The above bon mot is reported by Paul Theroux in the book I'm reading, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star. The quote has become a bit of a theme for me in these last days of 2008, a year that has brought so much change globally and locally, and personally.

I don't generally think of nostalgia as a healthy thing. A sentimental longing for the 'good old days' can blind us to the things that were not right, and did not work. We need clear eyes so we can either keep up the good work, or go back to the drawing board if we messed up the first time.

So I'm not accepting the quote as a motto! I'm using it as a wake-up call, and a kind of anti-resolution for the New Year. Change must be embraced (we don't have a choice about that) but we shouldn't let it paralyse us.

We often find those rose-tinted glasses are whipped out from some deep hypocritical fob pocket when we look backwards, whether it's at a funeral for some paradoxical person in our lives, or at the end of a year or a decade, or an era. I guess it's understandable we might prefer the view through the vaseline-smeared lens. It's so much nicer for everyone if we all keep up the pretending.

My preference for a spiky analysis rather than a convenient collective amnesia, has led me into some uncomfortable places this year. As per usual.

I've been swimming upstream in the great DENIAL river when it would be so much easier to turn and float down with the laissez-faire drifters.

But it's not that lonely, and I'm not alone. It's wonderful to have so many fellow travellers on the journey, who give courage and good example, and share their wit and warmth and strength and wisdom.

There are plenty out there on the blogosphere too, who prefer to swim against the stream, in so many ways, and I'll be raising a "cup of kindness" tonight to toast all the auld and new acquaintance that makes my own journey so much more fun and more companionable.

Happy New Year!

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