January 1, 2018

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick (Proverbs 13.12)

The keyword here is ‘deferred’; that’s to say, postponed for a later time. In other words, this isn’t a text about the utterly crippling experience of hope abandoned. (That’s far, far more difficult to deal with.) We’re in the realms of delayed, rather than cancelled, trains. You may have a burning desire for something to come to pass, and the deep-seated expectation that, one-day, it will. However, its fulfilment has been along time in coming. If you know that the object of your hope will be tremendously good for either you or others, then the wait can be utterly miserable. It may effect your whole disposition. That’s testament to how much you’ve invested in that hope, how singularly important it’s to you, and how desperate you are that it should be realised. That hope may be realised, but only at the right time – neither too soon nor too late. And when it arrives, you’ll know why it didn’t come any earlier, berate yourself for being so impatient, and rejoice with thanksgiving.

I’ve never made any New Year’s resolution other than to remain resolved. Determination is a vow and an endeavour that must be renewed and pursued daily. There’ll be days when my steadfastness will buckle and collapse. I reckon on it, and purpose to respond to the lapse by redoubling my commitment the next day. To quote John Bunyan: ‘There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent’. Giving up is not an option. And doing other than what’s right is not an option either. Self interest, need, desire, happiness, pleasure, and even hope, all take their place in the queue behind this principle.

Over the weekend, I established a second sound mixing and production station at my study desk. (This has been a longtime in coming). On it, I composed a bespoke sound piece for a friend overseas, based on the sea. It was sent as a New Year’s Day gift. They’re likely to be the work’s only audience:


New Year’s Day is, for me, the tipping point between holiday and workaday. I try to keep busy, make preparations, put things away, tidy up, and clean. It’s a practical and a therapeutic approach to self-readying.

Before lunch, we drove to Ynyslas, to walk the sand dunes down to the beach:


The windchill off the Irish Sea was significant, but enlivening. It did my sinuses a world of good. Turner would’ve known how to respond to this. It’s strange how one place can summon the recollection of another, entirely different, place elsewhere. Brushing through the dry and sun-bleached long grass, set against the neutral cloud bank, I recalled ‘The Tip’ and ‘The Moss’, as they were known locally – grassed-0ver slag heaps from the local coalmine – over which ‘Pop’ (my maternal grandfather) walked and regaled me with the stories about industry, when I was young. Both were levelled when the pit closed, in the years after the Miners’ Strike. Therefore, they cannot be revisited other than vicariously, by means of another place (such as this):

Mid afternoon. (All hands to the deck!) We de-baubled and defenestrated the Christmas tree. (The lounge window is the easiest, if an inglorious, route to the front garden and garage.):

I rehabilitated my Skype presence by shutting down the spammy account and generating another one based on my new private email address.* But for how long will this one remain inviolate?

A recollection (once shared with a friend):


*My new Skype identifier is ‘JohnHarveyAber’.




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