So 2009 is here at last. A few months ago, a few weeks ago, I had expected to be looking at this day through dark glasses, skulking in the shadowy parts of the street with my brow furrowed like a recalcitrant teenager. My mood, however, is surprisingly light.
Sometimes a moment in time, an entire year, can be personified into something that perhaps it is not as we blame and condemn it for the ills that have befallen us. 2008 was such a year for many.
Economic malaise, war, poverty, hunger, environmental uncertainties, birth, death, the end of the world as we know it. Can one year survive the assault of such spyglass intensity?
2008 was a difficult year for me in many ways but I would be hard pressed to name one year of my life thus far that had just consisted of sunshine, unicorns, lollipops, rainbows, and skipping along country lanes.
I learnt one very important thing in 2008. A thing I needed to learn. Being afraid is not so frightening.
Fear strikes us in many ways – when failure threatens, when we experience change, when we are challenged, when we step out of our comfort zone, when we open the door and do not recognise our surroundings.
But fear can be harnessed if you just step into it. Boldly. Wildly. With abandon. You can smell it. You can taste it. You could touch it if you tried hard enough and it can’t do anything back to you but acknowledge your willingness to tackle it.
There’s a peculiarity about the things we fear. Once we step towards them they retreat, crashing and lurching away from us like wild beasts in the underbrush, terrified of losing the power they have over us.
Fear allows self doubt and self belief to engage in a WWE smackdown in our heads,
but once we own it, feel it, and do what we need to do anyway, all bets are off and self belief is the clear winner.
Last night I went to the park by the Bay with some friends to watch the fireworks. It was a pleasant summer’s night. The sky was dusky blue. The reflection from car headlights were seized and held just below the surface of the water as the cars crossed the bridge. It was how waterlilies would appear if they were actually stars.
A baby, probably only about one year old, toddled about, laughing as children lit sparklers. She had one little tooth that glimmered like a seashell. She was holding the smallest light sabre I have ever seen. Petite as she was. She was a Bubba Jedi.
A Lebanese family had brought along a portable barbecue and were sending out the most glorious smells of garlic and lamb. Children walked on the breakwater, arms out like acrobats, drawn to the water and the open sky.
When the fireworks started they were bursts of the colour that only occurs in dreams, deeper than real life, full of celestial goodness, galaxies brought all the way down to earth.
As the crowd gazed, agog – I looked straight up above and saw hundreds of fruit bats, disturbed by the booms and zings, scrolling clockwise through the sky like the crema settling on coffee. In a deliberate, protective pattern.
When the fireworks stopped the bats dispersed and the sky returned to deep blue. Tiny little whorls of white appeared here and there as if the surface of the moon had been tapped and moon dust was falling.
People mulled together. Laughing, drinking, clutching at one another in a contented way. I knew all of those people and I were thinking the same thing :
It’s a new day that might just be better than the last one.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
This year, even if I am afraid, I will not forget to see the sky, gathering its white edges into blue. I wish you all much happiness and many moments of peace.