By Marshall Defender Nyanhete
"I think of all the sacrifices people have had to make this year. Those millions around the world who perhaps for the first time, have had to spend the year and now the holidays away from their loved ones."
Having made more than my fair share of glaringly erroneous predictions at the top of the last annum, this year I have decided to leave my crystal ball nestled firmly within its sack, to steer clear of the jinx and to quite simply wish you all a new year. Whether it's a happy one or not has nothing to do with me… I’ve wished it, it’s a new one, so, yes, you’re welcome!
Joking aside, it has been an incredibly unpredictable year and, for myself, that has made it an immensely difficult one. I am someone who thrives when I have a routine in place, which has not always been possible to achieve this year and so, I have to admit, there have been many moments when I have felt more than just a little bit off-balance. That was the worst of my experiences and so I realise that I have been relatively lucky. Even as I write this, I think of all the sacrifices people have had to make this year. Those millions around the world who perhaps for the first time, have had to spend the year and now the holidays away from their loved ones. Those who have had to take an indefinite hiatus from their passions - their careers, their businesses. Those who have had to say goodbye to someone who they should really have had no business saying goodbye to, yet. I think of all of those people, all of those situations and I know that the feeling of being somewhat untethered is one which we must all be experiencing right now.
"I am someone who thrives when I have a routine in place, which has not always been possible to achieve this year and so, I have to admit, there have been many moments when I have felt more than just a little bit off-balance."
The overwhelming impulse at this time of year is to look ahead. The prospect of fresh beginnings is an enticing one and, most of us have already been grappling with the urge to attach goals and resolutions onto the days and weeks ahead. I know I have! Do so if you wish but as you do, spare a moment to ponder over the events and emotions of the last 12 months. Typically a prolonged preoccupation with the past is not a thing to be advised, because dwelling on things you can no longer change is the surest gateway to depression. In a year such as this one, however, our brains are filled with alien thoughts and our hearts with alien emotions, and failure to reconcile these lived experiences could prove decidedly more harmful than opting for the trip down memory lane.
It's not so much that you have to do anything with these memories, with these emotions - some of them may be incredibly difficult - it is enough to just recall them. Our brains are best able to catalogue and make sense of events while they are still relatively fresh. The lure to procrastinate will, of course, be strong; for some of us, the journey from last January to this has been profoundly challenging. The danger with leaving this task too long unperformed however is that with each subsequent tug the laces of remembrance tend to become ever more entangled. Meditating on the past while it still fresh is incredibly useful because it prevents memories from becoming repressed - fragmented. There is a certain release that comes with remembering. One of the reasons I long for the return of live theatre is because I miss watching a tragedy, or perhaps even a comedy, and experiencing catharsis - the feeling of purification that comes after processing complex emotions.
Be sure not to dwell too long in the past or risk encountering melancholy. Likewise, try not to look too deeply into the future for therein lurks the threat of anxiety. Wade into both currents only far enough to be able to understand yourself and to cement your goals. The ideal place to reside in however is in the now and, as we embark upon a brand new revolution of the fiery orb centring our galaxy, I believe that the prevailing message contained within the present moment is one of hope. The world was not prepared for what we encountered because we had not encountered it yet. Having endured, we are infinitely better positioned. It may seem a sallow one, but therein lies our achievement. It is a victory for the future but a victory none-the-less.
I began by wishing you all a new year… it’s here, take it! Take, as well, this reminder: just as high and low oppose each other, good times must surely follow bad.
Marshall Defender Nyanhete is a self-taught student of psychology, hugely interested in diasporic politics and contending with the question of how we can all best function within an increasingly polarised society.