Beloved reader, I believe people can improve some personal and professional habits, but the essence of who we are will always remain unchanged. This isn't a case of turbo-charged cynicism. Experience is the apotheosis of the slap-in-the-face nature of reality (regardless of whether we're wedded to self-flagellation or self-forgiveness). We deepen into ourselves over time, but can't separate the bone from the marrow of our character. As we embark on this potentially fruitful year, with any luck loaded with enough ammunition to kill the werewolves of self-doubt and moral depletion, try to be tender with yourself. Try to remember that you can't therapise or pray your way out of the person you already are. You can, however, try to be more gracious and loving and patient with yourself and with others. It's labour-intensive work, this love ting, but a contented life depends on the recognition of that fact, not a repudiation of it. I hope you receive love because we are all worthy of the goodness it brings into our orbit. I hope you feel valued at every turn, and I hope that this startling, occasionally cruel world grants you the grace to deepen into your highest understanding. With love, Diriye
Song of the moment: 'Nights in Havana' by BLUE LAB BEATS.