Somewhere along the line, everything fell apart. As the New Year approaches I can only recant any and all of the fake creeds that were supposed to keep me sound, sane and hopeful.
It’s a sad time, though it is a man-made distinction of time itself, when a year ends. Notions from my youth suggested looking upon a coming calendar year with urge and optimism, celebrating its arrival while bidding a decent farewell to the year gone by. All right but something inside of me always perceived the passing year with a deep state of mourning. It was an impression so real that all possible joy succumbed to it and I was brought to tears.
The melodic atmosphere of the traditional Scottish theme of such farewells, “Auld Lang Syne,” contributed to my malaise. What inspired Robert Burns to find its melody and to write such a lyric must have been a profound source that could only be defined by the fake creeds that come when definitions are demanded by the feeble human consciousness.
“Shid ald akwentans bee firgot
An nivir brocht ti mynd?”
Its first line is a question and although I did not know that in my youth I must have enjoyed it as one, which made me unconsciously answer, “No, no, never “firget” them—none of them.
I also must have subliminally translated the tune’s title, absorbing its reckoning. “Long, long ago” states the finality of the year being disposed. Done. Dead. Burns is documented as calling it an “old song, of the olden times” and in that description there is remorse, there is sorrow, there is loss, there are acquaintances left to exist only as strong as the power of memory.
Somewhere along the line, that feeling which always encompassed me as a child in the waning moments of a calendar year, during the strains of “Auld Lang Syne,” delivered only the dread of reality’s heartbreak, filling the cauldron of sorrow to the brim. As long as my brain worked at a reasonable gauge, as long as I had a glimpse of the old acquaintances, as long as I recognized an essence among them, my despair was on stage.
“The flames of Love extinguished
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On old long syne”
Seventeen years have passed since the great scare of 2000 when the digital world was supposed to collapse and wreak havoc throughout the borders of Earth, sweeping us all into an abyss of stone-age proportions. Five years are gone since some ignorant conspirators warned that the ancient tribes of somewhere or other predicted 2012 would be the end of the world, sweeping us all into an abyss of stone-age proportions.
Ending after ending, year after year, all along the line, always on the brink of something, always enough left for those of us left to find “thy sweet Heart now grown so old.”
In a room where I have settled for decades, both hands of the clock will align on the last day of 2017 and every one of those varmints and heroes and stick figures of my bloodline holler at me and sing the farewell song with plangent notes while the bagpipes’ drone breathes and echoes through the canyons and the shadow of the New Year blankets my hemisphere.
None of them can escape my remembrance, even those whose shoulders but barely brushed mine, and even those for whom my bell tolled, and even those for whom my time was scant.
Yet the room will miss but one most, one whose flame of Love may never be extinguished, one “fully past and gone” without my permission, as if I ever had a choice, year after year since one New Year’s Eve when I realized all of the fake creeds that were supposed to keep me sound, sane and hopeful were never within my grasp, that what those old acquaintances promised were only lies to keep me hopeful, all with good intentions but all contributing to the torture.
Just when I thought my cauldron of sorrow was full, this Hogmanay will take a cup of kindness, yet.