On Beauty, Cynicism and Action

Photo by Angela Marie Henriette
Photo by Angela Marie Henriette

Happy new year, readers. I hope the coming year finds you healthy and hopeful, that you uncover pockets of laughter, reach into your potential and fill the spaces of emptiness that sometimes haunt us all. I’m late with my well wishes, I know. I have an excuse though. Littlest Stelter was born a month ago, just in time for Christmas, and we’ve been in a haze of night feeds, nappies and baby soft cuddles. He is delicious and we are very lucky to have him.

The world seemed darker this past year. My belly sheltered the new life growing within it, while the year seemed laden with suffering: war zones, refugee crises, terrorist attacks, plane crashes, political upheaval and incessant reminders of mortality by way of celebrity deaths. I was glad to see the back of 2016. A new year offers a break with the past, a new start, momentum, action. Still, too often, it’s an arbitrary feeling, marking the start of a new year with fireworks, champagne and promises. Hope can fade as soon as it is kindled, particularly when the world seems bleak.

Photo by Nick Kenrick
Photo by Nick Kenrick

It seems natural to turn into the family unit, to trusted circles, to shore up the beauty we find there. To forget that the 24-hour news cycle, our access to technology, our heightened awareness tricks us into seeing all the dark in the world at the expense of the light. And there is so much light. I look at the baby, at his innocence and potential, and I am in awe of what this tiny human will achieve, who he will influence with his thoughts and actions, what mark he will leave on the world. On his face, I see wonder. He is energy, in contrast to the adults around him with the weight of their worries sitting like a stone at their core.

This year I want to remember and hold that light to me, to remember that whatever is going on in the wider world, there is always promise if we invest in ourselves and our communities. It’s all too easy to fall prey to toothless optimism, abject cynicism, apathy, disillusionment in our dreams and our political classes. History is not linear, neither in a personal nor wider sense. Nothing can be sustained indefinitely. The story of the world and its people twists and turns, as do our personal trajectories. There will be peaks and troughs, hope and despair, fear and courage, action and inaction.

Photo by Angela Marie Henriette
Photo by Angela Marie Henriette

So reader, revisit your goals, hold your family and friends closer to you, but don’t forget to be outward-facing however difficult that might sometimes be. Remember the light, and contribute to it. We’re going to start small by having a gratitude jar at the dinner table that we each fill with a note recording what made us happy that day. It also does good to venture outside of our echo chambers. This Spring, I’ll be setting up a Little Free Library in our garden, as a way of getting to know people we wouldn’t usually meet. Small actions, perhaps, but a start. Let me know what yours are.

Wishing you light and love this year,


6 thoughts on “On Beauty, Cynicism and Action

  1. Congratulations again, Nillu ? I made a decision to stop watching the news and reading papers etc. about a decade ago, because I’m easily sucked into depression if I’m not careful. I understand and know all too well that there is much darkness out there in the world, but I also know that by immersing myself in that darkness is not going to change anything or make it better. So, I understand and applaud your decision to focus on family and the good around you – because the truth, is there is a lot of good and good people in the world too. It’s just that the media don’t like to show us that stuff.

    I love your idea for a gratitude jar! I might do the same thing. My big project this year is to assassinate my internal assassin. My negative self talk has become crippling, and it is enough. I’ve started writing daily #lobby4love quotes on IG – basically about approaching life with love vs fear. And it’s had an amazing effect on my psyche. It forces me to think loving & creative thoughts everyday.

    Sending you hugs,
    Bianca xxxxx

    1. Thanks B. I think that’s very wise, and even more so to take your other chosen hiatus: one from fb. It can be disheartening to see worries amplified. I contribute to it, I know. Wish there was a way of influencing the beast that is the media to go back to the days of more investigative journalism rather than the mouthpiece they give to outrage. I’ll need to take more of a leaf out of your book. A few weeks on, our gratitude jar has pride of place on the dinner table but is less used than we’d like – the realities of having a newborn means too often we have to dash off and deal with dinner and bedtime briskly ;). The kids love writing their notes though. Good spelling practice for them too! I love your idea of coaxing your internal voice to be kinder. Going to have a look at your IG before I hit the sack. Love x

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