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As 2019 begins we will all have had different experiences of the past twelve-months and will be starting this new year with different feelings. Some of us will be excited and see the new year as an opportunity for a fresh start and chance to try something new. Some of us may feel tired and ready to give in. This week’s song choice, Tori Amos’ ironically titled Pretty Good Year, is reflection on the latter.
Amos writes that the inspiration for this song came from a letter from a fan named Greg who lived in the North of England. The correspondence contained a simple self-portrait by Greg showing himself as being really, really skinny, having long hair, glasses and a drooping flower in his hand. The accompanying letter described how, at only twenty-three years of age, Greg felt his life was already over.
Amos’ reflection on his situation was that he couldn’t grasp the kite by the tail, pull it in and see what it would reveal. The idea that it might refresh his visions and dreams was intangible. All he had the strength to do was express himself in a letter. This was a theme she recognised as being the experience of many twenty-something year old men. As a result, she wrote Pretty Good Year.
The real beauty of Amos’ writing in this song is her recognition that no-one needs to hear an answer from her for this situation. There might be many answers waiting to be discovered, but her role was to be shaken out of her numbness to the situation faced by many.
There is a deep wisdom in this thinking. Answers for situations we might face are uniquely individual. They are tied to our personality, experiences, hopes and dreams (and even lack of them). As humans we are all on our own journeys which we need to travel, and whilst alone, we travel well when we travel in the company of others. Our role as friends is not to dictate the destination or route of travel, but to be stirred to travel with others.
As we start another year, let’s commit ourselves to be vulnerable and brave enough to travel with others, and to ask others to travel with us. As we do so, we never know, it might even turn out to be a pretty good year.
Also by Dr Wood
- Good old times (Auld lang syne)
- December will be magic again
- Merry Christmas Everyone
- I could’ve been the heavyweight champion of the world
- And into the sea, goes pretty England and me
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