A New Year’s Missive

December 2022

A New Year’s Missive

In this interim week of crapulent self-indulgence, there’s nothing more fitting (unlike one’s trousers) than looking back over the past twelve months. A year which has seen triumph and tragedy alike.

Coming into the first free year since lockdown, things were always going to be unsteady. Eager to reconnect with others and embrace new challenges, I called out for collaborators. Setting myself a goal of absolute change by the Spring Equinox.

By the time Ostara rolled around; I’d given my first podcast interview; the debut Trismegistus Hex EP was released; and I’d scored a nice little movie role which I still can’t talk about until the film is released.

Most importantly, I had turned away from a feckless dial-in job which had reduced me to hitting a key every minute to clear the screensaver. Staring down the legal team of one of the “big-four” financial service companies until I got satisfaction. Freedom fought for and earned.

It is with this daunting sense of independence and self-responsibility that HeathenStorm Productions was formalised. Starting with a few low-key video projects and branching out into freelance facilitation across the music industry, it was always to be a relaxed vibe on my schedule. I’d worked well enough for others. Now it was time to work for myself.

Then Summer came, and with it Love and Madness. International restrictions thankfully relaxed, a much needed return to the mountain was eagerly embraced. Tears were shed and dear friends held after many years. Following this, a temporary relocation to Germany and the thrill of new opportunities both afar and close to home.

But there was a noted change in a few. One which I’d neglected to reckon in eager reconnection. A malady of spirit observed in the weeks and months which followed, manifesting fully as Autumn heralded Winter’s chill.

The tragedy of trust.

Regardless where anyone may stand on the debate which filled timelines in the years of isolation; we treat each other differently now. Or rather indifferently.

Once upon a time, actions had consequence. We each upheld a presence in the real world and in the thoughts of others, defined by our deeds and reputation. Then suddenly the shared consensus became an internal construct. Doomscrolled division beamed into text, as glowing oblongs became biased windows to the world that was.

Our only interactions were virtual, and thus re-prioritised. If words or concepts offended our selfish perspective, we could block them at the source. Without the necessity of debate and compromise, souls became swaddled in comforting echo chambers. Woe betide anyone who dared offer discord, with many friendships ended on the mildest of disagreement.

Re-emerging into reality, it’s clear how this attitude persists. Suddenly, old friends who had agreed to work together, to share, found they could instantly cut another off without real repercussion. Ignoring any accountability of prior arrangements, and squandering the civility of civilisation. Words became worthless, spreading damage to anyone depending on them.

Communication is key in all interaction, and many folk retort with excuses about lacking energy to do so. Which is fair, as these have been exhausting times. But failing to communicate any change of circumstance that others rely upon is nothing short of malicious deception. A deliberate disregard for the trust engendered to get to that point. An irrelevance of reputation.

I, too, make mistakes. Sometimes more cruel of tongue or callous in action than I would prefer to be. But I always take responsibility for my words and deeds, and seek to accordingly make amends.

I feel that is the difference here. Self-awareness has atrophied, unused and unchallenged, so few comprehend consequence of both action and inaction. Demanding absolute accountability in others while offering none in themselves, blaming uncertain geopolitics for their callous lack of concern. If World War Three could break out tomorrow (they explain), then we can do whatever we want today – despite the harm caused.

I’ve lost money through trusting those I thought were the best of friends, and this has impacted my plans for the future. But I prefer to think of it as tax paid to see their true face. Once betrayal is apparent, however traumatic in despair, then the bridge is burned and we can go our separate ways. Rather sooner than later.

None of those who behaved this way were new to me. Old friends from many years back, the loss of friendship hurts deeper than any financial hardship or inconvenience caused. It is clear with hindsight how ill intent was blatant, especially in the disparity of promise and fulfilment.

It is easy at this point to reductively close the door to the world. Declaring others aren’t worth trusting and never were. But none of us are islands, and it is through trusting close friends in these moments of anguish that I was able to find support, shelter, and healing.

We must trust. We must risk. We must take a chance on the uncertain “other.” The alternative is to become even more isolated, lost in the inconsequence of ourselves, and pliable by powers malign.

So I keep on keeping on, thankful for those in my life who have chosen to be there. Enriched by their presence and inspired by their honest, sincere kindness. If the horrors professed as excuse for impropriety come to pass; then loyalty and reliability will become currency far more precious than Mammon. More than ever, we need each other.

I am grateful also to those who did wrong by their divisive deeds. Serving to fortify cautiousness in future conflicts of interest; and acting as template for how not to be.

For good or ill, we are informed by the interactions of the past, and can only move on by acknowledging what we have learned. The bell, to re-paraphprase John Donne, always tolls.

I choose to be accountable.

Looking forward into the New Year, there is much to be thrilled about. There are more video projects on the go for various clients, and my skills improve with every contract. Servitor still ticks along, provoking robust debates about the ethics of AI. The novel spills out when it can, and it’ll be good to pass on a few finished chapters to interested folk.

Musically, the Trismegistus Hex album will be done when it’s done; and Solstice will return to rehearsal in the next few weeks. I’ve secured more crew work for other bands as well, with lots of learning on the job and intriguing announcements to follow.

The challenges ahead will be just as terrifyingly inspirational as those faced already. Mistakes will be made, lessons learned, and reparations sought. But even at my relaxed pace there’ll seldom be a dull moment.