If there’s not a touch of sadness to the closing of the year, you’re missing something.
Are you doing Christmas right?
My mind is already there and I did want my last blog of the year to be something upbeat – like a whiskey-bottle-shaped present, in shiny paper and a bow, sitting under the tree.
Hmmmm. Can’t wait to open this little gift from Uncle Jon.
But I’m not actually feeling that. I’m not feeling full of Christmas cheer and the blessings of the season.
That will come when the laptop is shut and my wife and I are watching the Royal Tattoo on the ABC, and getting into the opening rounds of our annual Jelly-Twister tournament.
Such a special time of year.
But right now, I’m not a jolly old fellow.
The year is ending. We’re pretty much done.
And when I look back on what I’ve done, there’s a lot to be proud of. I grew the business. I got a few successful deals up off the ground. I grew my wealth and reduced my waistline. I found new depths in my relationships.
It was a success. Sure.
But if I’m honest, there were misses there too. There were goals I just didn’t quite hit. There were deals that could have been done better. There were things I said to my loved ones that weren’t coming from my highest, most compassionate self.
And now the year is done. 2018 is closed. From this point on, 2018 will just live in memory and our history books. Before we know it, we’ll be looking back on 2018 the way we look back at 1998 – a fading memory, full of obsolete technology and loved ones who are no longer with us.
The past is a different country, and we are already pulling away the shore.
We’ll never set foot in 2018 again.
And I had big plans for 2018. I remember this time last year. I was pumped. I was excited. I was going to own 2018. It was going to be my pivotal year – the year I really switched it on and burnt my name into the sky.
(I’m realising now I tend to say that about most years.)
And sure, it was a good year. If I’m honest – and when I say honest, I kind of mean grateful. The fact that I can wake up in this beautiful country and live this blessed life is nothing short of a miracle. Anything less than awe-struck gratitude is kind of just dishonest and ungrateful.
(I probably didn’t spend as much time in awe-struck gratitude this year as I should of either.)
So yeah, if I’m honest, it was a good year. It was full of blessings and miracles. The pigeons of fate continue to poop their lucky poops upon my greying head. I see that. And I’m thankful.
But the close of the year is also bitter-sweet. I could of done more. I could of achieved more. I could of lived larger and more courageously. I could of drunk more deeply from the well of joy and beauty. I could of worried less and had more fun.
Measured against the yardstick of my dreams and my potential, I came up short.
And yeah, I know. To 7 billion people on the planet I just sound like a spoilt idiot right now – like a moron who just doesn’t know how good he has it.
But I think this is the price you pay for being driven and passionate – when your day-dreaming imagination gives you regular tastes of what might just be possible – when it lays out a glorious future before you, and tells you that this is what you were born for.
So much promise. So much potential.
And it’s what happens when you just don’t accept the hands life deals you – when you refuse to go with the flow. When you take responsibility for your life, when you live in agency, then the results are yours to own – your failures as much as your victories.
So I am owning my failures. As the year closes, I have to admit that 2018 just wasn’t all it could have been.
Ho, Ho, bloody Ho.
And maybe what I’m really railing against here is my own mortality.
2018 is done. That’s another year scratched off the ledger of my life. That’s another year I won’t get to do over.
And there’s a lot I want to achieve with this life. There’s stuff I want to get done, celebrities I want to take out to dinner.
I’m at an age now where if I died tomorrow, it wouldn’t be a shock or a tragedy. It’d be a loss, sure. “He was taken a bit early, they’d say. “But he’d had a pretty good run…. and you saw how much he used to drink.”
I am not a spring chicken any more. And I get less springy and less chickeny every year.
And in many ways, my star is already waning. In Japanese sword, they say that the peak of your power is 42. Beyond that, your inner power starts to fade. You can still become more powerful and more effective, but from 42 onwards, you need to lean more heavily on your skills and the power of the elements.
And I feel that. I don’t bounce back from Christmas drinks the way I used to. Every now and then I fancy a nap, and that’s unusual for me. Some days, I just can’t be arsed at all.
Getting old sucks.
And each year the field of your potential narrows. When you are young, worlds of possibility are open to you. You could be a scientist or a fire-fighter or a professional footballer.
With each passing year, more and more options stop being available to you. At this point, there is absolutely no way I could become a professional footballer, no matter how much money I threw at the problem. That door is forever closed.
And each year, more and more doors close, until finally, towards very end of your life, there is only one door left – the door into death and the other side.
And look, I hate that. I’m having a good time here. I enjoy exploring the world and tasting the fruits it has to offer. If there was an alternative to growing old and dying, I’d take it.
But there isn’t.
Christmas just reminds me of that. The year is done and I am a step closer to a state with no potential.
And I wonder if I’m not alone in this. Christmas is a notorious time for depression and suicide.
Typically, people put that down to how stressful the season can be, or how Christmas itself can be a stark reminder of how alienated and isolated you are.
I’m sure that’s true.
But I also wonder if it’s because Christmas brings in the closing of the year, and the closing of another door.
It’s natural to reflect on how far you’ve come, how much you’ve achieved, or if you’ve achieved anything at all.
Time just slips away from us. If we’re not spending it consciously, then it’s very easy to get to the end of the year and think, “Whoops. I really didn’t get anything done this year at all. I’m not a step closer to any dream I have.”
Faced with that thought, of course it’s easy to get depressed.
Well hasn’t this Christmas message become a bundle of joy? Sorry. I didn’t mean to bring the Grinch.
But I also don’t want to shy away from this either. I know this time is tough for a lot of people, and if you’re reading blogs on the Friday before the Xmas break, then I guess you have an appetite for meaningful reflection too.
So what is there to say?
- 1. Time is precious and our time here is short.
- 2. Spend your time wisely because you won’t get it back again.
- 3. Be conscious of your mortality and the doors that are closing around you, but know that any time not spent is awe-struck gratitude is wasted.
- 4. Have compassion for your companions on the road. We are all in the slow process of dying and shuffling off the earth. We all have to watch our power and potential fade. That sits heavy in every human heart, but it’s something we can all relate to.
- 5. Celebrate what you do have, and who you do have, with everything you’ve got.
So I guess this is what I want to leave you with as I sign off for the year. The poignant, beautiful absurdity of life.
Thanks for travelling with me. I hope you’ve found something interesting to reflect on in these blogs. And I hope the Christmas period comes gently to you, and it is rich in all the things that matter to you.
I’ll be back early in the New Year, ready to give life my very best shot.
I hope you’ll join me.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!