Jan 192010
 
Two New Year's Resolutions postcards

Image via Wikipedia

… and the column for 06/01/2010. 

All right, own up… who stole 2009.

If you’re the culprit, then you’re welcome to it. I for one won’t be mourning the passing of 2009, and I suspect that I’m not alone in the sentiment.

My problem with 2009 is that it promised a great deal, and under-delivered in spectacular fashion. I ended the year in pretty much the same position as I was in when it started. Despite a lot of hard work it feels like I’ve been standing still for a year, both personally and professionally. As years go 2009 was a non-event: it may as well not have happened. We’re all a year older, and that pretty much sums it up.

I guess I should look on the bright side… stagnating for a year isn’t all that bad in a year when a lot of people experienced much worse; I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who’d love to find themselves in the same position they were in at the end of 2008. But it’s disappointing none the less. This time last year 2009 was looking tantalizingly promising, and I found myself eager with anticipation. Today, after the year that’s just passed, I find myself gazing into 2010 with unfettered indifference.

What is it about the start of a new year that engenders so much hope in so many people? We look at it as a new start, but really it’s just the passing of another day: a seamless transition to more of the same. Look around. What’s changed? The date… and that’s pretty much all.

There’s nothing inherently special about New Year. We can all choose to make changes in our lives at any time of the year. I guess what makes the transition from one year to another a little more significant in that regard is its symbolism. It is the start of something new, and for a lot of people that can serve as a catalyst for re-evaluation and positive action. For many more it’s a good excuse to get drunk and make a series of vague promises, easily made and just as easily broken?

How many of us will make significant positive change this year? How many New Year’s Resolutions will you make… how many will you keep? How many have you ever kept?

By and large the whole New Year’s Resolution thing is a bad idea. We make them because we’re stickers for tradition and slaves to convention, and because for a fleeting time at the start of the year doing so makes us feel good about ourselves and our noble intentions, but it doesn’t last. We soon fall back into old habits, and the fact that we haven’t had the strength of character to persevere with our New Year convictions leaves us feeling worse about ourselves than we did before.

So my suggestion for a New Year’s Resolution this year is to resolve not to make any New Year’s Resolutions at all. Trust me, you’ll be much better off. If you eschew my advice and decide to make a few regardless, for goodness sakes keep them to yourself. That way at least you can pretend you chose not to make any resolutions, and you alone will know how spectacularly you’ve failed.

I love Christmas and all the festive frivolity that surrounds it, but New Year is a pretty rubbish holiday, and while 2010 is likely to be a better year for many of us than the one we’ve just departed, somehow I can’t bring myself to embrace the excitement.

As I ponder all of this New Year whimsy I glance at the children and see three individuals refreshingly unencumbered by all this nonsense. Shielded from the worst of what the year throws their way by the insulating buffer of good parents, for them every year is a happy one, and the prospects for the new year are always bright. They live in the comfortable bubble of consistency that we provide, blissfully oblivious to the ups and downs of our topsy turvy world. You’ve got to envy them that.

Happy New Year!

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Dec 312008
 
Happy New Year from Sydney, Australia!

Image by Leorex via Flickr

That’s it then… by the time you read this 2008 will be coming to a close. In the wake of the Christmas festivities it’s only natural for us to reflect on the events of the bygone year. The ups and downs, the side-to-sides… the struggles and the joys, the challenges and the achievements… all done and dusted.

For us 2008 has been an interesting and productive year. We got a lot of work done around the house. Stuff we’d been meaning to get around to for years is now finally sorted. It’s an old house, so there will always be more to do, but you get a great feeling of satisfaction from finally accomplishing the niggling little and not-so-little jobs that you keep putting off.

One of those jobs was to finally insulate the attic. We finally got that done last month, and what a difference it’s made. In a house with 10 ft ceilings keeping warm had always been a bit of a challenge… now, with the solid fuel range installed and the attic swathed in insulation it’s veritably toasty… and we’re using less fuel. The question that immediately springs to mind is “why didn’t we do this years ago?”, the answer, of course: time, money, kids….

Somehow despite all the doom and gloom surrounding us I can’t shake the feeling that 2009 will be a very positive year. Folding banks, collapsing economies and a global climate in turmoil notwithstanding, I’m feeling very upbeat about the coming year. Which is unusual from a person who’s response to the “do you see the glass as half full, or half empty?” question is typically “What glass?”.

It’s hard to pinpoint why… but I’m sure 2009 is going to be a really wonderful year. Bizarre, I know, but there you go… you heard it here first!

One of the things I’m sure will endure into the new year… and for many year’s to come, is the tendency to conduct completely useless research that reveals absolutely nothing of any tangible value. Why do we keep pumping money we can ill afford to spend into studies that we really don’t need?

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