Off prompt for Day 1, Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash
Let us begin again
at dawn. With the stirring songs
of the Skylarks ringing in our ears,
the dappled light of the rising sun,
smell of moist earth and the distant lap
of a gentle wave calling us.
In the shadows of the stations,
along this winding tortuous path
we have climbed this mount,
where like a seed once dead
is reborn, we arise again.
As has been the case with every year since I can remember, I rang the new year in at church, taking the opportunity to reflect on 2016 and my plans for 2017 as the year turned.
As part of preparing for that, I took time out to reflect on where I was on achieving the wider goals that underpin the seven focus areas I have identified as part of my Life Plan. It is fair to say that it makes for gory reading, the details of which I’ll have to spare you. The cliff notes version is that, like everyone else, there are a few areas where I am pretty much where I want to be (Causes & Charity, Work & Career), a few where I have put in a decent shift (Financial, Physical & Health, People and Social) and a couple where I’ve gone backwards since the end of 2015 (Spiritual, Personal & Mental Development).
Rather than make a big song and dance about resolutions for this new year, I decided to go for a number of priorities which will guide my life and activities in 2017:
- S: Growing the relationship, with a formal decision on marrying the hopeful outcome
- Writing: Daily on here as guided by life and any of a number of prompts I follow and weekly at A Bloke’s Life.
- Online Radio (Radio 31): Supporting a relaunch of the Behind the Music show I was part of last year and also the launch of L’s new one, In Conversation.
- Church Community: Progressing the set up of a space for the young, single blokes at the church I currently serve on and prioritising monthly meetups with the two young chaps I met up with on and off through 2016
- Music: Learn to play the guitar and volunteering for the Christmas Carol Mass choir for 2017. I’m also minded to get more involved with one of the less traditional vocal ensembles in my local community. Not firmed this one up yet though.
- Diet and Exercise: Eat LCHF, complete the MapMyRun 10k training program and run an actual 10k race.
- Learning: About AI, neural networks and potential engineering applications, particularly in my field (Corrosion & Materials)
It is shaping up to be a critical year already. Hopefully I devise a means for regularly checking in and staying accountable to these commitments.
Only a few days ago, the sun was out – weakly warm but out regardless, even though the first day of autumn was officially past. As I made my daily lunch time walk from the office to the Boots Store at the back end of Union Square, the sense was one of making hay whilst the sun still shone, enjoying the final blast of warmth, before Autumn took hold. An old lady, bless her heart, bumped into me as we waited for the little green man before crossing the road into the parking lot adjacent to work. In fairness to her I had my nose in my phone – make of that what you will – but that little bump did create the context for a short quick chat whilst we waited. Not so long ago, the arrival of spring, and the warmth it portended was the focus.
Summer ended up a damp squib of sorts, bifurcated as it was by the events of last July – that made July pretty much a month to forget. August fared little better, the bright spots in an otherwise dreary existence being a milestone birthday and B’s first hop into Aberdeen. September and October fared slightly better with four books downed in quick succession, the kid brother completing his MSc in and then preparing to take the next steps on the journey to his Canadian dream with his first job. As I found out, impromptu trips are more than a little expensive, my bank balance doesn’t look like it will recover from this summer any time soon, with the prospect of a quick hop into Canada to come. Comfort eating returned also – Pizzas, Nandos, and the odd KFC providing sustenance to the detriment of all the weight lost from last year.
These days, leaves litter the ground, a carpet of glowing reds and golden browns a reminder that Summer is well and truly a thing of the past for yet another season. The last brush with Summer too has faded, leaving us with the far more typical wet, cold and windy weather that is our lot up here. There is a very real counting-down-to-the-end-of-the-year feel to everything, not helped by the spate of Christmas party invites which kick off the Christmas Party silly season. In a sense, the change in the weather feels like a beginning in reverse; an opportunity to, like the trees shedding their leaves, hunker down, shed the excesses and focus on the key things through the coming winter months. In the end, change is the only constant they say – birth, growth, spawning new life and death continuing in an infinite loop, like the seasons change, and yet stay the same. Not there yet then – with respect to finding a new normal – but a large part of the journey feels complete. Progress then, if slow and steady rather than quick and painless…