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The force is still strong... a new year message

May be its just age. But 2016 felt different. The world saw so many changes. Most difficult of all is the fall of so many of our icons. Heroes of our modern day. Heroes at work. Heroes from childhood. Leaders who stood for something. Whether we mourn the loss of Muhammad Ali, John Glenn, Fidel Castro or Shimon Peres, Prince, Bowie, Leonard or George, Alan Rickman or Gene Wilder, Roger Tsien or Susan Lindquist, Harper Lee or Elie Wiesel. Fighters. Pioneers. Revolutionaries. (Each irrespective of whether we loved, loathed or felt ambivalence towards them). These were the musical backing track to our (well... my) youth. The villains or magicians of our imagination. Thinkers and innovators. Ring leaders who demanded us to be the greatest. Writers of our collective conscience. Some taken in ripe old age - too many taken too early. And I know it sounds ridiculous, but yesterday, the passing of Carrie Fisher (Princess Leah from Star Wars) felt almost too much - like the Force might be dwindling. Like my childhood finally passed (some might say a little late).

Now I look down the barrel at 2017. There's every reason to be fearful. Its easy to feel like the best is behind - the future foreboding. But inspiration is still there. There is a force that can still inspire us and it comes without CGI graphics. On December 25th my brother took me to see the murmuring of starlings near Glastonbury (video above). Half a million starlings, flying as if a super organism. Governed by simple laws of behaviour between each bird, yet collectively creating something magical and unfathomable. We all, from kids to grandparents, marvelled at something so powerful - but also silent and awesome. Nature in full force and on display for free. Inspiration of how wonderful the world is if we stop to watch it.

So. In 2017 we must be bold and find new inspiration from new sources to create something very different from the rubble of 2016. A call for new heroes is out! New icons. New pioneers and new creators. New leaders (boy do we need new leaders!). My wish for each of us in 2017 is that we rise to the challenge. That our science, our art, our writing, our sportsman and woman-ship, our bravery to be leaders and peacemakers is greater than any year before. Against the odds - lets make it a GREAT new year. May the force be with us all (gulp).

Happy new year to each of you.

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