Monday, December 31, 2012

The Rearview Mirror

So it's the last day of 2012, a day to reflect on the year ending and a new one starting. I have been feeling meditative of late anyway, so it seems like as good a day as any to take stock.

For me, the year started with some sad news of a death in the family; however, this man was 96 and had lived a very good, healthy life, so the sadness was mostly mitigated by this fact. If only everyone should be so lucky. Later in the year came the terrible news that a friend had accidentally drowned, which gave all his friends the opportunity to realize how quickly this life we live can end.

There was cause for celebration when my son completed his studies at a marine institute. He had had a couple of false starts before starting this program, so this attainment was important. He's been fortunate to be able to work immediately, though he has plans to further his education in time too. My daughter completed the last full-time term for her degree program; her final term this coming spring consists of one course, her honours thesis in Anthropology.

For myself, I continued with my freelance work as well as revising a novel that I first completed five years ago. What can I say? I'm not a driven person and also easily bored with my ideas. It's amazing to me that I've managed four blogs up to now! It's not that I don't think about the state of the world and the meaning of life...I simply don't feel that I'm any more brilliant than anyone else, and possibly these words that I am writing are too mundane to share.

My partner and I are fortunate to have a home and garden to look after. The old dog we adopted last Christmas has done well on a special diet, and he is enjoying a golden retirement with us. We painted our house this summer while the sun shone. It felt good to fill the holes where woodpeckers had taken a few pecks, though also sad to fill the gap in the siding near the roofline where every spring a family of swallows has nested. The new dark colour of paint would have shown their droppings too easily. So they will now have to find another eave or the like next spring when they return. I hope they do come back to our corner of the peninsula. For their cycle will continue somewhere, just as the years cycle by.

In recent days I've thought about my history and wondered about various work mates or friends that I've known and have lost contact with. At Christmas, a couple of them sent greetings without much in the way of real news. I answered in kind. But, I think, there's so much more I'd like to ask these people if the distance between us were dissolved and time expanded. One lives half the year in Mexico and the other half travelling in North America to see family or friends. The other lives across the country in Ontario, where she started out before coming west for some schooling. But there are many others I once spent good times with who actually still live in my city, and I don't see them anymore. It seems we simply grew apart--living lives that no longer intersected. I find that idea sad, yet I know I must also face this reality.

They say people pass in and out of our lives to fulfill temporary needs. I'm not so sure about that. I know some who are diligent about keeping in touch with their friends over decades, and I count myself lucky that they included me in that contact list. I have had times when I made a call or arranged a meeting after a few years of no communication only to realize that indeed the connection that once sustained a friendship seems to have simply frayed away, because that person has an excuse to not meet, or the meeting doesn't quite seem as fulfilling as imagined. We can "catch up" and share current news, but there's no real need to keep in touch more often. Yet I also know that if I were to hear of that person becoming ill or accidentally dying, I would be very sad that I had not been maintaining better contact.

Perhaps that's the best resolution I can come up with this New Year's Eve: to make more effort to reach out to those who have shared their thoughts and histories with me. Even if it's simply to say that I appreciate the time we once spent together and I hope they're well today. Spreading gratitude seems to me to be an appropriate action to take on any day, but after my recent life review, this idea reverberates and gives me a feeling of renewed purpose. Hello, 2013!

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