Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Years Reflection

Note: I wrote the following several days ago on New Year's Eve, which we spent in New Zealand. I have since returned to Melbourne, but Erika will be in New Zealand for a few days more – with mum Lilli and sister Lisa too! Stay tuned for more tales of our New Zealand adventure in the next few weeks.

I am spending some rare solitary time in New Plymouth in Taranaki, New Zealand. I'd been determined to spend this New Year's Eve day either in the mountains or on the beach. The fact that there were low thick clouds gave me a choice between climbing through fresh cool mountain mist or shivering damply on a sandy towel. Not a tough call. So there I was hiking up a mountain through mossy woods and meadows almost elevated enough to be alpine. The hike was great, despite having several textbook harbingers of hiking unpleasantness:
1) The recent rain has transformed sections of the trail into small rivulets – or riverlets, if you will – which trip charmingly down the mountain and merrily collect in hazardous mud puddles. I am grateful to my Saucony sneakers for dramatically outperforming their job description yet again.
2) My trail guidebook, which in all other cases has inaccurately overestimated the time needed to complete a walk, instead underestimated the time it takes to walk this trail by about two hours. I have decided to attribute this fault to the mud rather than the trail guide or my own slowness.
3) The track promised sweeping panoramic vistas stretching down to the sea. Sadly, I didn't see any of them because the mountain was almost entirely swaddled in cloud cover. I still had plenty to look at, as nothing brings out the greens and yellows in a forest or field like diffuse white light. And I very much enjoyed the lovely fresh air, the novelty of humidity after arid Australia, and the steady stream of endorphins in my blood thanks to prolonged exertion.

Since it was New Years Eve, I gave a shot at solitary introspection while hiking. I thought to myself, "self, it's almost 2009. How have you spent 2008? Are you satisfied that you have made meaningful progress towards your goals for personal and professional development? How are you fulfilling your commitments to your family, your wife, and your world? What do you hope to achieve in 2009?" I answered myself, "2009? Awesome. Hey, that rhymes with 1999, which is in the title of that song, you know? And it's about New Years, too! We're gonna party like its 1999..." and there followed about two hours in which I reveled in the rare opportunity to sing whatever song I liked as loud as I wanted, stumping squelchily up the mountain serenading myself with snatches of everything from bluegrass hymns to Georges Bizet to the Dixie Chicks.

I give it another go after I finish stuffing myself at dinner (post-hike monster appetite). This time I got as far as, "Yeah, I'm pretty happy with what I'm doing. I like spending my work week administering an end to global poverty and my weekends catching up with my cousins. And I'm really glad my job in Thailand will be less admin-focused than what I have been doing. And we're going to Thailand! Awesome!” … before I got derailed again and the next thing I knew I was halfway through the crossword puzzle in my book of French grammar fun.

I'm about to give up on my attempt to productively harness the symbolic significance of today's date. It's not that I'm not in introspective person, it's just that I think by talking to people and right now – again, somewhat unsurprisingly - the "solitary" part of my unfolding reflections is not proving as helpful as I'd hoped. 2009 will come whether I spend tonight meditating or belting on my favorite tunes at the karaoke bar downstairs. Plus, I think I’ve hit the highlights already:
18 months ago we were scraping by at jobs we didn't enjoy and weren't taking us anywhere we wanted to go.
15 months ago we started making big changes.
10 months ago we started new endeavors in Australia, moving closer to where we want to be.
In 2009 I want to keep learning, keep loving, keep achieving, keep growing, and keep LIVING.

It is now 9 p.m., and I'm going to bed. Happy New Year, Everyone!

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