Every so often you get a festering old bitch of a year. That’s one of those years in which everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. A Murphy’s Law of a year, if you will. Or, as dear old Mrs. Queen would have it, an annus horribilis.
The year of our Lord1996 was one of those stinking years for me. In a mid-year period a crumbling marriage reached its denouement, my father (equally crumbling for a few years) died, and I underwent what I’ll delicately call a personal crisis of sufficient magnitude that it ultimately told me that virtually everything I’d been doing for a couple of decades was completely askew. Yep, 1996 was a bitch.
The portents of change had been apparent for a few months prior to crisis time. My (still) wife and I took a trip away for a long weekend at the end of February. It was hoped (on my part at least) that the getaway might rekindle some of what had once been there for us – and there once had been some wonderful things there for us – and that we might start afresh. But, the excursion was almost Shakespearian in its negative portents. There was too much tension between us and what we were left with at best was a kind of Mexican-standoff for the weekend. Then, on the last day it started to snow. We had a home trip of about 100 miles to complete. And it snowed and it snowed. It was a horrendous trip back, and the two people in the car were as emotionally chilly as the outside conditions were climatically. I periodically thought about just driving off into a snowdrift and saying to hell with it. If I had known what was to befall in a few months hence, I might just have done that. But, in retrospect I am very happy that I resisted the impulse.
Happy because 1997 proved to be one of the best years of my life to that time and I am still reaping the rewards that grew out of ’97. In a brief phrase, 1997 taught me how to be ‘true to me.’ It still works. Not all the time, but enough of the time that it enables me to continue on the path.
So, now we are at the shag-end of 2009. Conventional wisdom seems to indicate that many consider ’09 to have been a shitty year, and they’re happy to be rid of it. For me it has been a kind of 50-50 year. It began with huge economic anxiety, but we didn’t fare too badly in that regard. Better than many, and in that we feel blessed. We’ve also always been prudent with money and investments and our cautious instincts have paid off. Also, Wendy got a really good job close to home. We got our dog, Max. And we were able to take a brief jaunt to San Diego, one of our favorite destinations. So all-in-all, a kind of C-plus year.
It is the eve of 2010 (nearly). And I must say, despite the fact that newspapers and magazines are having journalistic orgasms that the end of 2009 marks the end of the first decade of the 21st Century. It does not! The first decade (and new millennium) began in 2001, not 2000, so retrospective writers should know better. The first year of the 2nd decade is 2011. Sorry, I just had to get that in. I still reserve the right to be a bit anal about things that are dead-wrong
A pretty young clerk at my supermarket just asked me this morning what I was doing New Year’s Eve. “Nothing, I hope,” was my response. Well, she was all excited because she was going to a party – her first since she had a baby a couple of years go. “Have a good time,” I said pleasantly. “And remember, only kiss people of whom you’d often wondered what it would be like to kiss them. That’s the only way it’s worthwhile. Don’t kiss people you don’t want to.” Might as well share some wisdom of experience, I thought.
Resolutions are the other phenomenon this time of year. I don’t make resolutions because they are built-in sources of failure and depression I mean, you can do easy ones, like resolving not to eat broccoli more than once a season, or resolving not to eat it all (even better), but that misses the goal of a resolution.
What Wendy and I have done for a few years is to make ‘aspirations’. Aspirations are the ‘hoped fors’. What would I like to see happen in the following 12-months? It leaves it wide open, but also gives a quest to work towards. More realistic than resolutions and far less likely to lead to resentment and a sense-of-failure.
OK, that’s my year-end review in a nutshell. May your 2010 be blessed for all of you. Happy New Year, and now I can mentally choose those whom I really, really want to kiss. But, I’m not about to say who they are.