A Small New Year

In an email letter in the series ‘Letters to Ukraine’, Mario Petrucci, one of the most innovative poets writing today, notes:

We needn’t become accidents of society, or robots of biology, or victims of our times.  We gain irresistible power, and also serve the whole, when we discover our own deepest purpose and are true to it. Nothing prevents any of us from being a nucleus for resistance, possibility, hope.

Celebrating the dawn of a New Year with my small family, living a small life in a small place, running a small independent press whilst currently not knowing what our funding situation will be for 2012 and all this in a world in financial crisis, it’s easy to struggle with the question of whether my little bit makes one iota of difference. Yet I warm to Mario’s thinking and it resonates with other sound thinking – whether from the much-maligned Polonius in Act I, Scene 3 of Hamlet:

 This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

or from the even more wordy Augustine of Hippo, who (like Mario Petrucci) focuses on love as the root of selfdom that is neither selfish nor self-negating:

Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.

(In epistulam Ioannis ad Parthos)

So last night at midnight I shared a bottle of sparkling stuff with three of my children and one of my children’s partners; shared New Year wishes with this little group plus a family friend who was Skyped into the living room and made a very quick phone call to my daughter working on a ward of sick children, then went to bed to write my journal, believing that small acts of love and integrity do make a difference no matter how insane the world in which we live. One of my favourite books is The Secret of Joy by Alice Walker (the third in the trilogy that begins with The Color Purple) – Resistance, Walker tells us in that amazing, often harrowing, yet ultimately life-affirming narrative, is the secret of joy.

I concur – so happy small new year from a small press in a small place, and may 2012 be a year of resistance, possibility and hope.


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11 responses to “A Small New Year

  1. The uncovering of one’s raison d’etre and thereafter the living-out of that purpose… this so resonates with me and is the underlying theme in everything I write. It’s alright to be a small being living in a small corner, We are grains of sand. The grandiosity of the dreams and hopes and romantic fictions with which we are bombarded – the propaganda persuading us into false aspirations – can warp and ruin our sense of worth; our small, worthwhile lives.

  2. Sue Cvach

    Thanks, Jan, that is exactly what I need this morning, this new year.

  3. Thanks Sue and Sue 🙂 Completely agree 🙂

  4. omar sabbagh

    hi jan…one of the leitmotifs i pointed out in the work of chesterton, on whom i did my first ma thesis, whether its about the new telephone or little englandism, or indeed the christian idea of creaturely limitation and dependence – is limitation, or delimitedness…and i remember concluding on this theme by pointing out, no doubt tritely, that just as a harmless baby is God, so in tolkien’s trilogy, a tiny ring determines millenial fates….so in my opinion, yes, being your most indiividual self, being as particular (small) as a particular can be, is the best way to, both, be universal and representative, and also to, in my humble opinion, become an image of god…after all from walter benjamin and later from the work of ermanno bencivenga i take the idea of humanity as a project to be achieved, rather than ontic given…all of which, IN THIS (IMPERFECT) WORLD means, resistance…indeed hope IN THIS WORLD IS resistance…anyway, really enjoyed ur piece, lol omar x

  5. omar sabbagh

    jan, one further thawt of small things having a big impact…this may well be a gendered idea, ie feminine, but falling in love with all the heavy portent we give to it (AFTER FACT) is usually triggered by something minor and verging on sheer contingency, like an accent of voice, a piece of clothing, a look /glint in the eye etc…

  6. Being true to self seems so difficult before one attempts it, the only way to be when one has dared to try, practised a while. I wasted decades not daring to try. You’ve made infinitely more than an iota of difference to me, Jan. Here’s to resistance, possibility, hope 🙂 xxx

  7. Mavis Gulliver

    Jan, nothing you do is small – you make a big difference to a great many people.

  8. Very much enjoyed getting to know your poetry through your submissions to Antiphon…all small good things add up to something big. Thank you!

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