This past year has been a tough one. It’s been tainted by too much heartache and tears, sorrow and loss, thefts and deaths. And, in the twilight of 2013, I am left with a heart heavy with feelings, and a mind heavy with thought and reflection.
The end of the year may be the time of Christmas and joy (as re-watching Love Actually for the umpteenth time has reminded me), but, for me, it’s also a time of endings. It’s a time to wonder where all the days have gone, where those opportunities that seemed to lurk around every corner have disappeared to, and where those wishes and dreams have been hiding. The cold and dark days of the northern hemisphere seem well-suited to this end-of-year period – the stillness and isolation that a picture of snow-covered landscapes brings is perfect for the reflections and contemplations of this time.
And so we wonder, wonder those dreary thoughts listed above, and wonder what we have learned from them. What has death and heartache and loss taught us? What are the lessons we can learn? Will we move on and become better, stronger, happier? I suppose that’s what this time is about too – it’s about waiting for that new year to come along so that we can start over, in a sense, and have that fresh beginning. Perhaps the sunny days of the southern hemisphere aren’t so far off either – they reflect the image of the new, the bright, the wonderful. I always recall those last wondrous words of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece: “and so we beat on, boats against the current” (and I’ve purposefully left out “being borne back ceaselessly into the past” because the sadness of The Great Gatsby’s ending is not what this is about).
But we do beat on, boats against the current, always fighting harder, believing that if we try a little more, work a little harder, be a little thinner, healthier, fitter, smarter, then we will make use of our days, we will grasp those opportunities before they disappear into the darkness, we will make those wishes and dreams come true and lure them out of the deepest, darkest corners of our hearts. Perhaps it’s human nature, the eternal condition that we want to go on living, and we want to keep on getting better. Because if we’re still breathing, then there’s hope, isn’t there? There’s hope that everything will work out alright.
So despite the gloomy reflections of a year that’s been a little harder than usual, the sun still shines brighter every day (perhaps coz I’m writing this under the steady rays of glorious sunshine in the beautiful Namibia), and the new year carries with it every hope that my human spirit can master. My only wish is to not wait for the new year – or the new week or month or whatever it may be – but to begin today, right now, and make the most of it, every moment of every day. Happy New Year.