As humans, it’s important for us to bracket time into manageable segments. In order to create a sense of the continuing opportunity for renewal – to foster an optimistic outlook – milestone markers represent symbolic points in time against which we can consider a Before and After. Either to look fondly back on the Before or hang our somewhat battered hopes on the After.
I find this particularly important when life has been challenging. To be able to close the door on a whole year allows me to shake off any superstitious sense of being jinxed or unlucky, examine the part my own behaviour has played in my circumstances, make some (usually quite soft) goals for the new year, hit the reset button and charge on with my chin up.
Most importantly, this process of reflection means the entire twelve month period of time must be summated, forcing a number of discreet, independent events to be examined in the context of each other and ‘averaged out’, if you will. This invariably results in a change of perspective, or at least, for myself – a person of undeniably fortunate circumstances – it always amounts to a reinforcement of what deep down I knew to be true: things are pretty good.
If I was to undertake this exercise literally, there would be a two column accounting of all the ‘bad’ in the left column, balanced against all the ‘good’ in the right column. I need only spend a couple of seconds visualising such a list to know on which side it’s weighted. Without being so comprehensive, I will venture to examine by category:
A decision I knew was rash at the time saw me throw away both 20+ years of history at the one organisation as well as the fairly real likelihood of a large redundancy package in the near future – a once in a lifetime ‘lottery’ type moment that will never be repeated – to try my luck at a competitor. I knew at the time it could be a hard transition, and likely even a bad decision, but at the same time I knew it would push me out of my comfort zone, hopefully with beneficial personal development forthcoming.
Cons: no long service leave on the horizon; no chance of a large lump sum of after-tax dough; incredibly difficult year in an environment where I felt I was speaking a different language to everyone else, which most of the time appears to have resulted in my inadvertently offending all the wrong people. Net result: hero to zero in 12 months.
Pros: I am still getting paid very well each fortnight; I have had some great laughs with some amazing people I wouldn’t have otherwise met; I have identified some areas of personal development and had the epiphany that I actually need to work on them regardless of what I end up doing in the future; despite previously mentioned language barriers and misunderstanding, I have still been given the choice of two amazing programs to lead in the new year, representing a great opportunity to make good…and hot off the press, I’ve been offered and accepted an even better opportunity back at my old employer, who I will now return to with a fresh appreciation.
Probably exacerbated by the poor decision I made to move us into a rental property in time for the ‘six weeks’ my builder estimated to get us to demolition (seven months later the old house still stands, earning no rent to offset the $4k per month at the new place), my children – and indeed my wife and I – have experienced a number of symptoms of an unsettled household, on top of probably normal childhood development issues.
Cons: previously confident and sunny eldest daughter transitioned from loving school and loving life to…not; historically anxious son went through a 10 week spiral, experiencing chronic constipation as a result; wife not a huge fan of yours truly; yours truly not a huge fan of yours truly; found out my father has cancer.
Pros: wife and kids are all basically fine, when you think about how bad some people have it – all pretty healthy and, I think, trending back towards happy and confident; despite aforementioned spiral, son has blossomed into an upstanding character; youngest daughter nearly old enough (at 5) to be past most of the more demanding requirements of infancy (and also very delightful); despite burgeoning negativity, oldest daughter has continued to impress – her piano playing being a particular source of joy for me; the guinea pigs have put on weight; we’re all still together and divorce is not on the horizon (as far as I am aware); Dad’s cancer prognosis actually not too bad, on balance.
I won’t have ‘sport’ as a category, as I consider all that as being ‘hobbies’, there are some other things I like to do with my spare time that need accounting for. It was a lean year of running at barely 2,500kms, which I mostly put down to the first half of the year being dedicated to training for my first full Ironman, as well as a stubborn hamstring injury keeping training to a minimum the rest of the year. As a result of starting a new job, my Masters degree ended up getting deferred, and no progress at all was made on my third novel.
Cons: no progress on novel; not much running; had to defer MSc; Ironman result at least an hour worse than it should have been due to internal issues in the run leg.
Pros: organised the BLR70 again – the third running of our little race – it was a ‘big’ success and as usual deeply rewarding – we raised nearly $19k for Berry Street; I completed an Ironman, which I wouldn’t have dreamed of a couple of years ago; I made it through a couple of 100km races despite not being able to train properly due to high-hamstring tendonopathy, including scoring a Stephen Bradbury-esque 3rd place in the Australian Ultra Runners Association’s Long Course Trailrunning Championships in Queensland; despite having to defer in the second half of the year, managed to squeeze out some pretty good results in my MSc before that, and I remain motivated to continue when I resume in April; no work on the novel but did spend more time on the guitar and piano than last year, learning some more covers on the guitar and finishing one original I started writing 15 years ago; got to run the NYC Marathon on an all-expenses-paid trip to the USA, my first visit, where I got to run the whole thing with my wife, pacing her to her new PB!
Had my first experience of losing someone close to me, made more acute by not having realised until then just how close he was to me.
Cons: We lost DJ; I could have put more effort in to spend time with friends.
Pros: Losing DJ made the Wolfrunners (the four of us remaining) realise that it’s important to make time for more social stuff, even if at the cost of training…drinking emerged as a good option, training did suffer somewhat.
The World deteriorated at a frightening rate. Trump began his presidency and is somehow still there. Lots of people were killed unnecessarily. The ‘culture war’ emerged as a very real thing which, like most wars, is being deliberately sponsored and cultivated by sinister forces who wish to drive humanity apart.
Pros: there is still an abundance of natural beauty and diverse fauna for me and my kids to enjoy and wonder at.
Cons: my kids’ kids won’t get to enjoy or wonder at much of it.