Days of Wine and Avatars

Happy New Year. This morning it is 2018. Happy New Year has become a number. We’ll each forget to date correctly on a cheque, or note, until it becomes ‘the year’ proper, when we have forgotten it is new. Happy? Hopefully… Have your resoultions  (I’ll leave that typo!) become reality? Give wishful thinking a chance to take root in the quotidian. Is it an especially Western notion to box our days and create artficial partitions in time? Fencing off the future to avoid contaminating it with our mistakes. Jumbled thoughts of a new year’s morning.  Questions surface through festive lights and too much rich food. The morning started and restarted. Party girl has had coffee, done the washing-up, her make-up has been washed away with the remains of last night’s celebratory dinner and generous pourings of wine. Order, of a kind, has given a semblance of respectability to last night’s promises. (In the kitchen, at least!). Blurrily , I wish you everything you wish for yourself… Here we are. We are in the future where dreams should be real because we have made a transition, moved through the departure gate of the old year. Ask the birds eating the crumbs of mince pies in the garden. They are in the moment, glad of respite from cold. Perhaps some alarm bell rings dimly to tell them they must plan the new nest, find a mate. The lives of birds are lives realised, not idealised.

Always, I remember the ‘New Year’ was a promise. Somehow the new year gets tired and messed up, in need of a new model, generally by the end of April or thereabouts, when we realise that things are not going the way of some wishful plan. I have been knocking around the planet for over six decades. I have noticed that we invest more in our dream lives than ever before. How can we be happier than when being safe, warm and fed on tasty crumbs, a guarantee of a secure nest? I feel we have drifted into an  age of abstract living. Designer lives, taken from magazines or media feeds, promises to ourselves that we know will never be real, our beautiful glass-fronted penthouse overlooking the bay where dolphins frolic. This is as virtual as any virtual reality game on the computer. I entertain the feeling that losing control of the real space of our lives enourages us to substitute our identities with memes and avatars, cutesier alternative selves where emotions can be exchanged painlessly in symbols. We lose track of our motivations in media. We blend our lives in a messy churn of imagination and the exhaust fumes of the bus to work. Sounds  miserable as a reflection on the first day of the rest of the new year! I am not attempting some great moral analysis, not least because my head is a bit fuzzy this morning. But 2017 was a pig of a year in terms of the overlap of wishful thinking and what was actually going on…  Somehow some of the worst consequences of greedy ambition of powerful individuals sucking the lifeblood from the countries they are supposed to protect has violated  laws of cause and effect in the real world. There is power in encouraging the abstract existence and substituting pain with a fluffy symbol. (I’ll leave you to construct your own local dystopia). I sense that people have the feeling of disenfranchisement from their own lives, so I cannot be surprised that folk want a more pleasant alternative that they have some say over. But this is in itself part of the new paradigm, this sea of plastic rubbish and unreal alternatives we have drifted into, metaphorically and in real terms.  Data and day-to-day are intertwined. Who or what is driving it? Has it gathered its own dynamic?. We must stay awake and breathe the real air, exhaust fumes and all.

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