Porkpie Hat—Random Thoughts on a Brave New Year

Can I get some confirmation that I am not the only one who feels a little bit undone by the start of this new decade?  I woke up on January 1st feeling unsettled and unready.  Not ready for another decade of worry and toil.  Not ready for sadness and rumours of war.  I woke up hungover, cold with fever dream sweat, feeling like an unfinished entity, a half-drowned straggler washed up on the bone-white sands of a frightening new year.

When it comes to New Years’ resolutions, I always tend to reach for the slightly more low-hanging fruit, such as eating more tofu, and “from now on, smaller olives in my dirty martinis!” This year, though, I can’t even seem to commit to such token gestures of virtuous asceticism and moral self-improvement.  This year, I feel as if I need creature comforts more than ever.  Like the cliché moth to the metaphorical flame, I find myself drawn to the pursuit of extravagant, bacchanalian pleasures.  I want to soak myself in a bath of condensed milk and long-stemmed roses.  I need mystery, romance, and adventure.  I crave cigars and chocolates.  I desire flamingo feathers and caviar.  I yearn to paint the town red, wearing a white silk tuxedo, with a rare orchid in my buttonhole.

Don’t get me wrong, I really do want to fashion myself into a better person.  But I don’t want to do it by giving things up; I want to do it by taking things on.  I want to crack open my mind and open up my arms a little bit wider.  I want to learn calligraphy and rhumba dancing.  I want to set the bar higher, and watch my soul go pole vaulting over.  I want to know more, experience more, care more, laugh more, love more, help more.

And yet … and yet … I find myself afraid.  I have been told that earthly pleasures are no more than illusions.  I have been told I have the wrong kind of fun, the wrong sort of love.  I find myself nervous, fragmented, and lost.  The glowing dome of the holiday season has given way, and the ominous flood of world events is rising and rising.  The tidings are dark as the winter nights, and I find myself struggling through the short but long days.  So, here I lie, shivering in the crashing waves, staring up at the foggy skies, waiting for who-knows-what sort of visions to appear.

And yet it occurs to me that I still have breath in my lungs, and the salty sea air actually tastes pretty sweet on my tongue.  It occurs to me that, bereft as my heart may feel, my tangled hair is adorned with sea glass and tiny shards of priceless bone china.  That I am held together by the miraculous glue of hope and chance.  That I can pick myself up, and leave some footprints in the sand, as I toddle off to see what surprises this brave new world may have to offer.  I mean, curiosity has gotten me this far.

I guess I’ll keep on going.