We are at that time of the year where it is traditional to look back and to review. It would be so easy to identify 2017 with political turmoil and with man's apparent ceaseless ability to hate and to destroy. Opportunity abounded through TV and social media to steep oneself in tragic and horrifying images and stories. But the biggest lesson I have learnt this year is that we largely create our own reality throught the things to which we direct our attention. While global tragedy could consume my thoughts - the honest truth is that these stories had little or no bearing on my daily life. Ah , I hear you say, no good to just bury your head in the sand !
Wendell Berry puts it well ; 'That many are cold and the world is full of hate does not mean that one should stand in the snow for shame or refrain from making love. To refuse to admit decent and harmless pleasures freely into one's own life is as wrong as to deny them to someone else. It impoverishes and darkens the world.'* And my life was full of 'decent and harmless pleasures' this year - many of them woolly! After 30 years as a fund manager, I retired and set up Lifelong Yarns. My previous career had much to recommend it - excitement, challenge, intellectual rigour and monetary reward. Yet the biggest lesson for me is how the reality I was surrounded by in that role shaped my emotions, my actions, the very person I was. Directing my attention differently, to beautiful wools, to Nature, to conversations with friends, to my family has begun to change me in a profound way.
Is this just 'dropping out'? I would phrase it differently. It is 'dropping in' to something more gentle and kinder. It prepares me to make a greater contribution to the life I really find myself in, in my family, in my community , in the countryside I work in, rather than the distant one I am presented through a screen. In our fascination with the stories presented to us by the media we sometimes overlook another reality which is very close and which can sustain us. Again, Wendell Berry, ' the events of man are not the great events; that the rising of the sun and the falling of the rain are more stupendous than all the works of the scientists and the prophets; that man is more blessed and graced by his days than he can hope to know...'
To all our customers and our' friends in wool', Happy New Year in 2018.
*Some Thoughts On Citizenship and Conscience in Honor of Don Pratt.' 1968