Gentle reader: Might I please wish you an exceptionally happy new year? You made it through 2021! Now you have 2022 to contend with. When you look back on this time, will it prove to be your favourite age?
The sun rises on a brand new year. What are you expecting from 2022? A fresh start, or more of the same? At the end of last year, Zack Bornstein tweeted: “I just wanna congratulate all of you on making it through 2020 again this year.” These are apt words. Will recent history repeat itself once again? The great David Crosby tweeted a cartoon that succinctly expresses the trepidation many of us are feeling right now.
The start of a new year is a time to look forward. But what’s behind you may prove also to be what burdens you now and into the future. How you view and how you approach the present and future can be skewed by what you are bringing with you from your past. Last year, in Baggage I wrote about “the mental baggage and the material baggage that we accumulate over the course of our lives. How we choose to deal with that baggage dictates so much of how we approach each moment of our lives.”
Letting go of what went before might be the most effective way to allow yourself to move forward.
I spent the closing weeks of 2021 trying to put into action the principles I’d set out in Baggage. In late November, I took delivery of the contents of my old childhood and teenage bedroom. A gent with a van delivered dozens of boxes. These boxes burst at the seams with relics of my past. Vinyl records, 1970s and 1980s comics, mountains of long-forgotten schoolwork and letters from old friends, and various other ephemera of my youth. Blessed or cursed with an overactive memory, it can take as little as a glance at an old photograph for me to recall the day it was taken as if I was back in it. It felt overwhelming to take delivery of so many items, so much stuff, all so crammed with memories.
So many of these old items were things I loved. But I am always wary of the allure of living in the past, of feeling that my favourite age might be behind me. As I wrote in Forward:
“Don’t fixate on what was better in the past. Celebrate what is good in the present and what can and will be better in the future.”
I made the decision to let all of it go, and to do so in a way that would bring as much benefit as possible to other souls.
To let all of it go
Letting it all go took a variety of forms. Letters and old schoolwork went into the recycling (some via an appointment with the shredder). My GCSE and A-Level artwork went to the loft. A lot of it went to charity.
At first, I had no idea where to start with the vinyl. I loved these 500-or-so pieces of vinyl. But I had not listened to them in an age. I do not even have a turntable today. It was best for these records to go to a new home. But where?
My wife did a little online research on my behalf and happened upon a Hastings record shop called Wow and Flutter. She suggested that it looked like exactly the right place for my vinyl. She was spot on. I gave them a ring. The lovely proprietors of Wow and Flutter – Tim and Susan – paid a visit a few days later. Socially distanced in my freezing cold garage (with the doors at both ends open, to make things as safe as possible), seeing Tim’s enthusiasm as he flicked through these records made it clear that we had found the right place for them.
During Tim and Susan’s visit, I had a brainwave to contact DJ Food (who Tim and Susan turned out to know, and to whom I am connected via Twitter) to see if he might be interested in some of the more unusual tributaries of my old comic collection, specifically some 2000AD-related items, a stack of old comic fanzines, and some curios that I suspected would be right up his street. DJ Food – aka @strictlykev on Instagram – did indeed prove interested in these items. He made a freezing and socially distanced visit to my garage in early December to pick up some of these old and obscure treasures.
Letting it all go felt freeing. As fond as I was of my old possessions, they were also such an accumulation of stuff and of memories. To hold onto them would have resulted in an overflowing home. The past, what went before, crowding everything out. No room for anything new. No room for now, or for whatever comes next.
A delightful afterlife
Letting it all go also proved unexpectedly joyous.
In this social media age, I’ve been able to see some of the afterlife of my former possessions. Wow and Flutter do a lovely thing each Saturday morning, posting short #newstuffsaturday Instagram videos of their latest drops, a hand flicking through the brand-new stock of beloved and pre-loved vintage vinyl that they are making available that day. Each of the recent videos in this series has included a fair few of my former records. Perhaps this will continue into the new year? From the enthusiastic comments that Wow and Flutter’s punters post on these videos, I am confident that my vinyl is slowly finding its way to loving new homes and bringing happiness to people in a way that it wasn’t while sitting unplayed all these years.
Meanwhile, in amongst the items that went to DJ Food were two copies of a curio called Lunar Orbit – a portfolio of images and documents relating to the 1969 moon landing in a fold-out, LP-sleeve style package. I was delighted when DJ Food let me know that he had passed on one copy of Lunar Orbit to his friend, designer Tim Easley. I was all the more delighted to see the joy that Mr Easley took in Lunar Orbit, posting a lovely thread of tweets as he explored its contents.
These unforeseen positive consequences of the decision to let go of all this stuff were the most delightful surprise.
Whether and how you choose to deal with your past and your baggage is entirely up to you. What you choose to do can make a difference to the present and future, for you and for other souls. Even if the difference is as minor as bringing a smile to someone’s face, even for a moment.
Whether and however you deal with your baggage, time will move on regardless. As I wrote in Baggage:
“You play your part, then time moves on. The waters will engulf all in time. The peaks of achievement will disappear beneath the still and calm surface of the water. But this is no excuse for idleness now. No excuse for half measures, for phoning it in. Each moment will pass. But while each moment is here, while you are in each moment, you should engage with it to its fullest, give as much as you can to make the moment as good as possible, for yourself and all those around you.”
This current moment, this current age, might feel like one of crisis. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t do all you can to make this moment as good as possible.
Late last year I came across some lovely, optimistic words from my Twitter friend Ushy Mohan Das:
“My favourite age is NOW”
You can embrace the moment, the age, in which you find yourself. There is no reason why your favourite age can’t be now.
I hope that your favourite age is now. I hope that you can find time and space today and this year to be kind to yourself. And as for right now, this very instant in which we find ourselves? May today be nothing but kind to you and yours.