For me, 2013 was in some ways a year of recovery, marked in the second half by the mantra fun and sharing. This was my attempt to restore a little balance to my life. On Christmas Eve, I wrote on my personal Facebook page:
I am going off line for the next few days. Just too many things. But to all my FB friends, happy Christmas and my thanks for your love, friendship and support over the year. From Beijing to Singapore, Armidale to Illawarra, Pune to Edinburg, libertarians and socialists with a dash of Country Party and new staters, writers and painters and those just struggling to survive, from South Grafton to Bellingen, for those who have lost or found, you have enriched my life.
Your stories are part of my story. I think that's special.
I have laughed with you and grieved with you. I have enjoyed the detail of life. Sometimes I have tried to help. Sometimes I have felt helpless. I have enjoyed old memories, of plates thrown, of lakes named, of joint work or campaign experiences, of community endeavour.
I cannot explain where you all fit in my personal memory and experiences. I cannot explain why I value you. There is neither space nor time. I can say that I do value you.
We all know that life is uncertain. Nothing can be taken for granted. Shit happens. But let's take joy from what we have, let's share, let us work together. Joy and sharing. I guess that's my Christmas message.
I think all that's pretty right.
I am not making major new year's resolutions. I never mange to stick to them and, in any case, they breach a fundamental principle. If you lock yourself in too rigidly, you preclude action on better choices that come from your own endeavours.
I began 2013 with apparently limited choices. I did not set major goals, but simply tried to move forward within a frame set by my values and interests. I ended 2013 with multiple choices, multiple possibilities, so now I do have to set at least some rough priorities.
That said, I have set only one target. I wish to beat both my daughters at tennis, thus restoring the status quo! I became so unfit during the year that my game deteriorated to the point that the girls could beat me. As you get older, you have to wok harder to stay in the same place. So I am going adopt one of Peter's 2013 objectives.
In many ways, 2013 was the year of people.
I am insatiably curious. I need to understand. I am also interested in people; I find very few people boring; when I do, I tend to think that that's my fault. Generally, it is. I also like to help. Writing as I do, I actually get to meet people and, sometimes, I can help. I have been given so much pleasure as a consequence. It's hard to explain, although my FB quote explains a little.
By nature, I am a fairly serious person. I can't help that. I am also a little insecure. This can make it difficult to talk to people. I am better with strangers rather than acquaintances: with strangers, you have things to discover; I can fall into roles that help me; with acquaintances, you have to adopt the roles they expect.
Sometimes when I write something that I hope will explain, solve a problem, I get hurt when people don't understand. I think that's human. Yet, overall, it's hard to explain the joy that I have been given. I am just so lucky.
If fun and sharing were my mantra for 2013, what will it be for 2014?
I don't have a full answer. I want to keep the joy and sharing, For the moment, I have set just one additional target. I want to complete the first draft of my history of Northern New South Wales, of the broader New England. I want that out so that I can draw a line under that part of my life and move on.
I think that it's a good history, a different history. That view can only be tested through publication.
I hope that you and yours have a good 2014. I am looking forward to our interaction.