How many “fresh starts” have you had in the past year? If you’re anything like me they occur on a weekly basis, stemming anywhere from being inspired by someone with dreadlocks to be more creative, to furiously scribble-shouting at myself in a notebook on the train because I wasted yet another day browsing charity shops instead of handing out resumes. “It’s okay,” I console myself, “this isn’t the end. Starting from tomorrow I will use my time wisely/be more creative/stop eating chocolate,” and so on. So this, what you are reading, is the result of a promise I have been reciting to myself for months: I will start writing on my blog again. (And I will resist the temptation to start a new blog and forget about the year-old blog posts on this one that no longer seem relevant to me, because they are undeniably a part of who I used to be. And, like that strawberry tattoo you got when you were 17, you love to hate that reminder of the weirdo you once were, because you’re cool now.)
This spurt of writing coincides with my recent relocation to Glasgow, which sits almost exactly on the opposite side of the world from my hometown, Murwillumbah; a tiny town in Australia near Byron Bay. You are probably now wondering why I would move from the sunshine-soaked land of beaches and Vegemite to rainy, grey, tea-obsessed (this part doesn’t bother me) Britian. But you already know the answer. A fresh start. At the moment, everything around me fills me with wonder and amazement. The shops dedicated exclusively to tartan material. The speed limit signs that say “Twenty’s Plenty”. The foxes that live in my backyard. Tesco! Pounds! A widespread deficiency in Vitamin D! Ceaseless miserable weather! Irn Bru! (Although, honestly, this orange chemical drink does not attract me.) I truly am a baby in the world again, gulping down the new experiences continually assaulting me with drooling pleasure.
Here’s a poem by Hermann Hesse that says succinctly what I’m bumbling my way towards:
As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.
And so, inspired by the words of Hermann Hesse and Walt Whitman and the endless strangers I connected with during the past two months in Southeast Asia, here I am, in the dead centre of another fresh start. Clueless and shiveringly excited (it could be the cold “summer” weather) for the experiences I will have and people I will meet, I can do nothing but let that sneaky mistress Destiny lead me to where I’m meant to be. And in the meantime I’ll just be more creative, hand out resumes, eat less chocolate and try to leave my next fresh start till at least Thursday.