A Happy New Year to you all! I wish you a peaceful and productive year ahead, filled with inspiration and good friends.
This is a new beginning for me, unaccustomed as I am to blogging… and quite in keeping with the New Year ethos of newness. As the old year slips into the new, all the dark and dusty burdens are discarded and we begin with a clean sheet of paper. Of course, few of us really let go of the old. We often carry it with us, dragging it around like Bunyan’s hero, as though it were a virtue to carry it. With luck though, and an open mind, we can look ahead with hope and anticipation towards the approaching spring. Spring is my favourite time of year.
I confess that when Colin suggested I might like to do this I was sceptical and quite frankly, scared stiff! It has taken me a week or two to get my head around it and negotiate with myself what to do with all this empty space on a month full of pages which I have committed to try to fill. So, my cunning plan to beat all cunning plans is to spend this month of licence in exposing to public view my travels around the haiku bazaars; highlighting the good, mocking the bad, and debunking some nonsense along the way.
The first bit of nonsense to debunk is the idea that we have now passed from the year of the dragon into the year of the snake. The Japanese celebrate the Gregorian New Year along with us in the west on 1 January, but also the cultural New Year whenever it occurs according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, which this year isn’t until 10 February. It is a complete nonsense to hitch the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs onto the Gregorian New Year, which is a completely arbitrary division of time owing more to the Romans and the Medieval Christians than to any natural phenomena. Mixing the calendars is rather like measuring your cloth in metres and calling it a yard. Besides, as a dragon myself, the mother of a dragon, and the child of a dragon, I rather resent the cheek of the ignorant in forshortening my year. I’m old enough not to be too complacently confident of seeing another!
Your Gean blogger for January can confidently predict that for at least the next week the bazaars will be populated with haiku postings using as their subject the ‘first’ of everything. Marking the ‘first things’ is an easy Japanese tradition to understand no doubt. How hard can it be? So from the first step out of bed to the first sneeze we will be regailed with a rash of ‘firsts’ as topical news updates to our haijin friend’s lives. Far be it for me to denigrate the laudable effort to experience the freshness of the NOW but I would encourage people to experience it in rather more depth than has been evident in previous years. The important thing is not that it is simply the first time you did it this year; it is that you experience it with the mind of newness. It is only NEW if you come to it without the dross of the old. It is only NEW if it is experienced without last year’s preconceptions. Part of the New Year is to shuck off those burdens of seeing which colour everything and flavour it with the soy sauce of familiarity. If you really must do a ‘first’ then please try to do it as though you had never done/seen/experienced whatever it is ever before. There is no virtue in carrying your old stuff forward. Experience the NEW!
Susan (stardate 130101)