Last Year’s Language

I am not eager to rehearse
My thoughts and theory which you have forgotten.
These things have served their purpose: let them be.
So with your own, and pray they be forgiven
By others, as I pray you to forgive
Both bad and good. Last season’s fruit is eaten
And the full-fed beast shall kick the empty pail.
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.

From “Four Quartets – Little Gidding”  By TS Eliot.  Read the whole thing here.

I used to pick out three words to start the New Year, a practice inspired by Philippa at Feisty Blue Gecko. A fine practice for sure, but after a few rounds I felt less than genuine as my urge to keep it fresh and entertaining got in the way of the honest banality of my life.

And, really, this whole Gregorian calendar thing is a human construct – why should I have to become a new person when it’s so gray outside and the minority is foisting its will upon our once great nation? I’d rather take a nap.

I read this great wrap-up of 2016 from Accidental Amazon Kathi. Not one to mince words, Kathi lays out the mess of the year that just ended and the potential mess that lies ahead. I particularly appreciate her sentiment about small, incremental changes.

[E]very small act of kindness, consciousness, or goodness can make a small change for good in the world, at least for a moment. And that those acts can influence others to do likewise. And if we live our lives that way, deliberately acting from our best selves, those small changes can add up to bigger ones. So, it matters that you treat everyone with respect and kindness, even if you don’t like them, or agree with them. It also matters that you treat yourself with kindness and respect…

That’s radically different from the world I see around me. Everything – cable news, social media, radio – tells me that I need to be OUTRAGED about something. And REACT.

WITH OUTRAGE.

Guess what I just realized?

I don’t have to do that.

When I go to the amusement park, I decide what rides I want to patronize. I don’t like spinning in circles so I don’t ride those that spin me in circles. Fast circles, slow circles, don’t like them. So I steer clear. I even politely wait in the shade if my park companions want to ride. I like watching people, so it’s a win-win.

Don’t get me wrong, there is no shortage of angering things in this world. But I wonder if that blood pressure raising, adrenaline rushing sort of rage is its own form of addiction. Like any addiction, it demands to be fed first and often.

Just this morning I read about the GOP getting rid of independent ethical oversight and I felt the juices rising. It finally occurred to me that maybe this has been the game all along – put a clown in the White House to distract the rabble and ram through an agenda the majority of voters rejected.

That’s about enough to send me out to the streets to shout at lampposts, but a lightning bolt flashed – we all need to take a deep breath and stop being useful idiots for these power-grabbing overlords.

Today I stepped off the spinny ride and am recovering my footing. I want to think and write and talk about things that require more than 140 characters and the attention span of a flea.

So I’m going to hang around here and I welcome you to join me. Let’s search for this year’s voice.

6 thoughts on “Last Year’s Language”

  1. Good on you, my friend. Love the quote by Eliot. The thing about outrage, that in fact I’ve always believed when I remembered that was what I believed, is that I always do better if I let it percolate in my brain and decide what to do (or not do) about it, instead of reacting to it. But it is way too exhausting to BE an outraged person all the time. And as good as I may sometimes be at writing about my outrage, writing is a conscious act, not a way of being. Took me a while to sort all this out, believe me, until I finally remembered who I really was. Wow. What a year we’ve all had. Glad we’re friends. We all need one another more than ever. xo, Kathi

  2. Hi, Katie. I have to say I’ve struggled a bit lately to find a balance between keeping up with what’s going on in the world and not allowing myself to be “outraged” day after day. It’s really counterproductive, leads to burnout and is just not sustainable. I definitely relate to your comments about stepping back and taking a more thoughtful approach.

  3. I’m glad that you are recovering your footing! I totally agree with your comment that “we all need to take a deep breath and stop being useful idiots for these power-grabbing overlords” (I’m based in the UK, but the ripples are felt here too). I also realised, at the start of 2017, that we have an opportunity to continue sharing love, peace, gratitude, joy and kindness, regardless of the political regime – and, indeed, to ramp it up to show that love is a stronger force than hatred.

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