On Beauty, Cynicism and Action

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

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

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,


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