Happy New Year! Let’s Explore Space Together, Forever, in Peace

As nobody will fondly recall, my resolutions for 2014 involved growing a moustache and starting a band called Our Collective Jungian Dream. I have achieved both. I also started riding a sweet 1970s bicycle, went to a piss-up in a brewery which was really well organised, wore some big jumpers, and got to know the best coffee roasting establishments in Glasgow. It appears that I became my very own hipster boyfriend this year.

I started 2015 by waking up at 4pm with toast stuck to my face. Undeterred by my accumulating failures, however, I thought I would try to up my game in 2015 and live more excellently. Society is still ruinously besotted with the myth of continual growth, and, y’now, I like to fit in and not over-think anything at all.

This year, therefore, will be the year that I write a novel, look good in photos, overcome my rational fear of plane-travel…

A very different Amy
A very different Amy

… develop dazzling staircase wit, read Ulysses, move to the countryside, understand economics, watch more Lars von Triers films, make a real difference in the some vague way, and go on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Beijing. I’ve only got 365 days, people! Now bring me three espressos. I’ve got LISTS to write!

Then again. While I don’t want to go hating on any of your resolutions, I can admit that there’s a certain commodification of experience going on with all these new-year-new-you plans. Once I’ve checked everything off the list, had many babies, adopted a surly cat, carved out a career (making a real difference in some vague way) and instagrammed every one of these things so that I WIN at life (and really, it is not enough to have won; others must fail. Check ma filters!), then I guess there’ll be nothing else to do, except sit down for a while. And wait to die.

I’m sure you know where I’m going with this… I’m going full Bill Hicks on this new year.

Bill_Hicks_05

As the great man himself put it:

“The world is like a ride at an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it, you think it’s real, because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round and it has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly coloured and it’s very loud. And it’s fun, for a while.

Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: ‘Is this real? Or is this just a ride?’ And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and they say ‘Hey! Don’t worry, don’t be afraid — ever — because… this is just a ride.’ And we kill those people.

‘Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride! Shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry; look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.’ It’s just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that — ever notice that? — and we let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter, because… it’s just a ride, and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort. No worry. No job. No savings and money. Just a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy bigger guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one.

Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, into a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defence each year and, instead, spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would do many times over — not one human being excluded — and we can explore space together, both inner and outer, forever. In peace.”

And if, after that last little bit of the quote, you don’t already have a speck of dust in your eye, you may also want to check out the original clip (or the quote in cartoon form).

2015: it’s just a ride. So here are some better resolutions:

  1. Really stop worrying.
  2. Mock any clowns I see. My dad gave me a perfect bike safety kit with all the ingredients to really troll drivers. A hi-vis jacket that says ‘give me space’, and a clown horn. Obviously I carry the clown-horn around in my handbag so I can take it out and toot it at any clowns I encounter. I’m mocking them, see.
  3. Meet Benedict Cumberbatch so I can trick him into saying the word ‘penguin’. Yes, I’m not making this up, he doesn’t know how to say the word penguin. Whether this has dimmed the ardour of the Cumberpeople, and assorted splinter groups of fans, remains to be seen in the coming year. It certainly led me to take quite violently against him. What is this ‘pengling’ chat? Off your pedestal, Benedict.
  4. Tell my new terrible joke to as many people as possible. Q: Why aren’t baby penguins called Penglings? … I don’t know, why AREN’T baby penguins called Penglings? … A: Because the world will disappoint you that way.

Ofcourse, the world is many things and not usually, not often, disappointing. It’s so full of secrets and surprises; and absolutely wonderful, unbelievably good experiences which haven’t happened yet. But they’re in the post.

illbeyouandyoullbeme_sendak12 (1)
Maurice Sendak illustration for the children’s book I’ll Be You and You Be Me, by Ruth Krauss
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