After a much-needed break, and a thoroughly enjoyable holiday, it is time to pick up my pen again and resume writing – blogs, novels, short stories introductions, websites … The list is lengthy and interesting, and requires, inevitably, some New Year Resolutions. This year, however, I’m considering thinking of them as New Year Revolutions.
Several things have happened for me over the last few weeks which have solidified some ideas already in my head and stretched others which were merely glimmerings before. The first influential event took place before Christmas when I went with a friend to the cinema. The film we chose was Arrival.
I am no stranger to sci-fi. Indeed, provided it doesn’t descend into horror, it is one of my favourite genres. But this particular piece was no ordinary sci-fi movie. Based on a short story by Ted Chiang, it was breathtaking in its simplicity, captivating in its presentation and awesome in its perceptions.
This was a film more focused on communication than conquest, with the core of the story-line challenging whether the way in which earth people experience both language and time is the only way to do so. The subtle, never-quite-clearly-visible, aliens have come visiting in order to offer, and ask for, help – but before that can become apparent, it takes some extraordinarily courageous characters to reach beyond their linear conceptions and embrace the possibility of the instant and the infinite occurring simultaneously. The essence of the circle.
For me, this had immediate resonances with some on-line research I had been carrying out about mandalas. Those beautiful, circular manifestations of multiple aspects of the soul, all appearing at once, all interconnected and all repeating for ever. My second big event was opening my Guidebook To Drawing Mandalas on Christmas morning, and entering a world I had been tip-toeing around for some considerable time.
The mandala, I discover, is a summation of how I experience life. I have fought against a rigid, straight-line, straight-forward understanding of the world for as long as I can remember. I’ve never been particularly impressed by hierarchies of – anything! Although I’m sure that a direct journey from A to B is more manageable, more predictable and therefore more controllable, it is – from where I’m standing – dry, divisive and devoid of life and love.
Much more realistic is the representation that allows for a multiplicity of contradictions to be true at the same time, or that invites a plethora of possible outcomes to be explored, or that gives equal value to all expressions of experience, however small, however big. I think only a mandala can do that.
As we pass the annual milestone of New Year celebrations and move on into 2017, I find myself reflecting on how I’ve been here before and will be here again. The year turns into a mandala of its own. This ‘beginning’ of the year holds a special energy: it is the only occasion in the year when change – or at least the idea of change – is universally welcomed.
It makes sense, I think, to utilise that, to anchor that openness to doing things differently in our hearts, to initiate our own individual revolutions towards becoming a better version of ourselves – or is that remembering the best version we were before all the linear stuff began to layer on top of us?
As we spiral into the next seasonal circumambulation, I wish you all Happy New Circles.