New Year conversation fillers

by Amanda Harding

Entering into 2014 feeling a rise of expectations. Around me conviction that 2014 will be nothing like 2013 - what ever that means. It will be better, has to be better. Time to break out of the Depression. Again, I'm never sure if this refers to my depressive state or the state of the French economy.

Substitute French for UK economy and you can even start to (make) believe that the tide is turning. House prices are rising, unemployment is down, your neighbor's forked out five hundred quid for each of his children's Christmas presents … As long as we don't look too closely and I don't get going on the messy nature (see last blog) of our global community where inequities grow, injustice is rife and our planet is over-heating (if only, wet, cold and grey here in central middle-of-no where rural France) helped by my daughter missing the recycling bag and chucking the OJ carton into the general rubbish.

Out with the old, in with the new.

This linear thinking just doesn't fly with me though I'm sorely tempted. Proof of temptation includes:


1. Killer hill run by 10 am on 1 January. Check.

2. Smiles and sweetness enrobed in new-look patience as daughters press the old 2013 buttons. Check. (Will try and be more honest in all future blogs).

3. Clearing the work decks and putting in six hours at the computer yesterday while still promising a January sabbatical (explains poor blog record).

4. Brilliant new email address, major symbol of personal determination and commitment (yet to publicize or even work out how to switch, keep old addresses alive, not create confusion and avoid electronic schizophrenia).

Much, much better than mine are the "new year resolutions" on a US Government website, each with a (government department) link to a self-help guide to quit smoking, recycle you waste, get fit, help others, manage your debt, and many more. The way to go!

More problematic than the good intentions which are nice, reassuring and rarely actioned, is when resolution turns to revolution. When, quite literally, we set ourselves up with manifestos that declare a new world order as from 1 January. We kid ourselves that we can sweep out all that has gone before, and just as any Prime Minister or President, CEO or Headteacher, what has gone is by definition "bad" and what will come is "good".

Yet looking back not only over the past twelve months, but taking the emotional risk to delve into the layers of exchange and sharing, the intricacies of human colour and light, the emotionally loud and thundering mountains that have been climbed and the free-falling that has terrified and exhilarated, only to land surer footed then ever before, the richness of what is lived can only be wondered at. No longer sharp and cynical, nor naive and spookily spiritual, the "looking back" begins to take the significance that our new year conversation fillers so often miss.


I begin 2014 massively thankful to have lived through, loved through and survived 2013. I'm confident that there I have much more flying to do, new acrobatics to learn with just a chance that I could stand at the top of the human pyramid this time around, and certainly the adrenalin fix is here to stay. How soft the landings will be is hard to say, but that certainly shouldn't stop me. I may need to limber up first.