Ringing in the New Year on Brighton Beach


What a beautiful night!

Didn’t want to go to parties but wandered down to the beach a half hour before midnight. I wanted to be alone, yet with people, which I guess is sort of how I go through life.

At first there were just a few of us, but then more and more people came down, drawn to the sea, and started letting off dozens of Chinese lanterns and fireworks, while fire dancers spun their poi.

I sat on the very end of the stone breaker, facing the sea, everything happening behind me: the bonfires and sounds of laughter and singing and rockets going off. And in the minutes just before midnight this happy cacophony crescendo-ed and I leaned my head all the way back, cackling like a maniac, each hand madly ringing a bell (two Cs an octave apart), staring and blinking at the pink and green and white starbursts whistling and exploding against the black night sky while the lanterns drifted higher and higher until each was just a distant pinpoint of faintly glowing orange, the colour of new stars.

I rang my bells til my arms were sore, screaming with deranged exultation that was also catharsis, and I didn’t stop until the last shower of flaming cinders dispersed overhead, then I let the last tones ring out, stilled the bells. I looked at my mobile phone, the modern human’s pocket watch. It read 00:00.

There was something like silence for almost a whole moment and then it began again: the singing and laughing and firing of rockets.

Begin again, begin again…

I was at the very edge of the sea and walked up to it then and put my hands in it and bathed my face with the water, my tears mingling with the waves.

A fresh start. What is lost is gone. Say goodbye to it forever, sweetly. And with the tenderness that sorrow brings, dare to invite something new into your life.

If you’re one of those annoying people who’s had an absolutely perfect year then I guess you won’t have a clue what I’m on about and probably think I’m being a bit melodramatic.

But I think there are many of you who will know just what I mean and also understand that I’m not the least bit depressed as I write this. There is a borderland where sorrow and joy touch, where hope and loss shake hands, where regret for what one has or hasn’t done makes way for new resolve. There is no time like the changing of the year to effect a powerful magic in the contemplation of these opposites which are really conjoined twins.

And all with really cool special effects!

Happy New Year everyone! With love from Brighton beach.

(Well, Hove actually….)

p.s. the picture is of a laser show on the old West pier that was actually done at Chinese New Year, but it captures the mood and location perfectly. I never take photos when I’m trying to have an experience so my words are the only document of last night. As it was in honour of a different calendar, it also says, to me, that there can be and are, many “new years” even within a single year…

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2 Responses to “Ringing in the New Year on Brighton Beach”

  1. Paxus Says:

    “I wanted to be alone, yet with people, which I guess is sort of how I go through life.”

    As someone who has broken that aloneness and been inside the chaotic colorful landscape of your inner world, this statement strikes me as a small crime against our collective potential.

    “There is a borderland where sorrow and joy touch, where hope and loss shake hands, where regret for what one has or hasn’t done makes way for new resolve.”

    Might i suggest that this resolve include being open to the possibility of partnerships, not necessarily romantic, tho they could be. But shedding alone for a different fashion. Not for you, but because you are such a powerful partner and we need you in the game.

    • 66witches Says:

      Believe me, I’m in the game. And I can and have been a good team-member, when that’s what’s been required. Through being in bands, and theatre groups and activist groups, I think I am pretty comfortable and skilled at collaboration. Many people have to learn to suppress the ego to work in partnerships and they find it challenging. But in my case, I feel that my love of collaboration has in a way been an excuse for me to “hide my light under a bushel” as the I Ching would put it. In other words, what I’ve needed to develop is the courage to go out there on my own. To go ahead and say “yup, this is MY project and I”m in charge”. I’m still not there with the music yet, because it is so much “easier” to find a bunch of guys who play instruments really well and get them to stand behind me while I sing. Except that now it isn’t anymore. I can’t find these people. So should I stop singing? No, I have to bite the bullet and create the backing tracks myself this time. I’ll never be any good on the guitar but we have computers now. This is a major project and I’ll get around to it later this year after I spend lots of money on equipment. 😉 . But in the meantime, I’ve plunged into my writing which I can already do all by myself. You see Pax, I don’t choose alone-ness out of some perverse desire to avoid society. I like being alone. It’s the only way I can write. I also love and value friendship. But I don’t find any benefit in identifying with a specific community and that’s where you and I are different.

      Whenever I have attempted to do so, and I have with great enthusiasm and optimism at times, I find that I am faced at some point, inevitably, with a choice to break outside the bounds of what is considered acceptable within that community (because they ALL have edges) which upsets people and casts me in a rabble-rouser role of which I am completely tired; or stifle something in myself in order not to make waves which is not a stance I can maintain.

      Romance has never been something I have actively sought. I was never a “boy crazy” teen but was always much more interested in the music, dancing and the drugs to be honest. My loves have without fail arisen by virtue of synchronicity, coincidence, whatever you want to call it, but NEVER by design. Meeting you at BM would be a prime example of this. Lots of people go to BM to get laid or find love but neither was my objective. My friend Josh once remarked that he felt himself to be a loner who desperately wanted to be more social, whereas I was highly social and desperately seeking solitude. He was correct. Belonging-ness means different things to different people. Personally I have decided to remain membership-free, whilst hopefully being able to get into any club on a “guest” basis. This is the way I play the game. xxx

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