Summa: diary (January 1, 2023)

There are many resolutions that I’ve made this year which will prove to be projects for a lifetime (January 1, 1987).

December 21-29, 2022

12.00 am: You’d have been hard pressed to alight upon TV reports of New Year celebrations in our countries’s capitals before 11.55 pm this year. I find most firework displays tiresome. Those by Cai Guo-Qiang are the only ones worth watching, in my opinion. Even when he’s ‘performing’ public celebrations, there’s something more significant being articulated by his pyrotechnics. 2.00 am+: I thought I heard thunder roll across the sky, like a ball down a ten-pin alley.

12.00 am

12.00 pm: Halfway through the first day, I walked into the town. The many of the streets, roads, and pathways mapped nearly two centuries ago can be still traversed today. However, the soundscapes heard along those routes, then and now, bear little comparison. Horses and carriages have been superceded by motor vehicles; steam locomotion, by diesel trains; and the friendly-voices of shopkeepers, by brash automated recordings (in some measure). The only constants are footfall, the wind in the trees, the call of birds, and the crash of waves in the distance.

John Wood, Aberystwyth Town Plan (1834) (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

1.30 pm: A little hoovering, mopping, and dusting. 4.00 pm: Some reminiscing and reflecting. So many of my friendships are measured in miles and years of separation. Christmas is the time when I touch base with those from my distant past, whose paths rarely cross mine these days. We exchange news about our families, and stories that recall the lives of others who’ve touched our own. Reports of illness (new and returning) and death are the dark leaven that tempers our bonhomie.

I read ’round robins’, dutifully and with a heavy heart. Friends apprise me of children (whom I’ve never met) and their achievements, bereavements (parents and pets), retirements, and home improvements … but write precious little about themselves. ‘Tell me, rather, about your joys, ambitions, realisations, disappointments, suffering, loves and loses, books read, music heard, exhibitions visited, conversations had, and that new shirt which arrived out of the blue. What made life worth living last year?’

I’ve neither a business strategy for the coming year nor a bullet list of things I want to achieve by the end of it. I’ve learned to live by principles, rather than for projects. Thus, I plan only to yield to those opportunities that either I make or which come my way; think and act with greater deliberation; hold my convictions in an open hand; dare, and demand more of, myself, acknowledge my contradictions; glance backwards less often; rejoice in the unexpected far more; experience and be surprised by new things; uproot tares; jettison surplus; live in the heat of the moment; and end 2023 in one piece surrounded by my family.

While glancing backwards recently, I came across this ‘prophetic’ impulse:

I’ve had an urge to return to music; only this time the form will be more like my collages and constructions than songs.

Diary (May 22, 1986).

The fulfilment would not come for another twenty three years. Some other determinations in my life have taken an achingly long time to realise too. And yet, each came to fruition just the right time. (We ‘see’ more than we can undertake immediately, sometimes.) In 1986, the sound technology to execute the sounds in my head wasn’t available. Magnetic tape and rudimentary overdubbing were too limiting for my purposes.

Resolutions are, by their nature, hard to put into practice and even harder to maintain. And some take far longer than we anticipate to embed into our life. And yet others don’t implant on the first attempt. Thus patience and persistence must be the bedfellows of resolve.

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