December is here and 2013 is drawing to a close. The last two weeks of the year and the first of the new, are basically the only time I have during the year to unwind properly - so there are never any half measures. I will be heading down to Casa Pepe (my Grandparent’s place) in Dorset (Bridport) in a couple of weeks.
While the view will have changed dramatically since my brief visit in the summer (above) - I’m still eager to head down for heaps of great food and even better company. Whatever your plans are for the winter holidays - be sure to spend some time with the people that mean the most to you.
One of the main things I like to do while I relax and review the year is plan out the next one. Call the new years resolutions if you want to, but for me they’re always more like objectives or goals. This coming year I need to make sure that I keep them realistic and obtainable. Striving too high only increases the opportunity for failure, equally not challenging yourself can be just as disappointing and wasteful. It’s a fine balance.
Ensuring that moving into a new house and having Jessica and Leo live with me is easily the most important goal for 2014, but there’s a lot else I’d like to work on too. Fitness, hobbies, education and so forth - I must not spread myself too thin though. I’ll likely post again once I’m sure of what my objectives for next year will be.
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I bought an advent calendar last weekend, for my son. It is the first one I have ever bought, since I’ve not had one myself since 2007 - where my parents would have bought them for the four of us. It is also the last one that I will buy.
Now that is not a stand against “the commercialization of Christmas” I am not religious and that doesn’t bother me. It is because when I got it out of my rucksack for him, he immediately exclaimed “It’s a book!”. He grabbed the bottom of the calendar and dragged it (along with me) into the kitchen to show it to his mother. “Look mummy, a book!”
At the time I chuckled a little and while she was inspecting it, I pointed out that it’s not a book but rather an advent calendar - which of course didn’t compute with him. He then dragged it off to the lounge and proceeded to try and read it. Naturally a task made impossible by the shrink wrap and the fact that it wasn’t a book.
Upon further reflection, I really wish it had been a book. He was genuinely excited to have a new book. He loves his books, will not go to bed without them nearby and often wants several bedtime stories. Sure he also loves chocolate and this particular calendar would have loved him back - being organic, dairy & soy free. But unlike a book it would not last, it would likely cause a tantrum or two and at the end of the day toddlers do not need additional daily doses of sugar!
Frankly, I bought the calendar to spoil him. He is my first born and (currently) only child. I never do anything silly, but I sure do like to spoil him with both my time and gifts frequently. Consumer based ‘traditions’ don’t typically get to me at all. I don’t send cards unless it’s an extremely special occasion, I don’t buy my family or friends trivial material gifts or participate in all but the unavoidable ‘traditions’. Overall I am quite proud of my choices in this regard, but evidently for some reason when it comes to my Son - I bend my rules.
What happened with the advent calendar was a firm reality check, and a lesson well learned. It tugged at my heartstrings and I will admit I am welling up a little again as I write this. I learned that as much as I wanted to get him something for my weekend visit, it did not have to be a seasonal perishable. I should have thought more about whether I needed to get him anything at all, where we could just be enjoying our time together. Or if I were to get him anything, how could I ensure that it was at least a worthwhile, well-rounded and long-lasting gift. What would he want, what does he need or what can he learn from getting?
I took the calendar back home with me, he’s not missed it and I’m not exactly looking forward to eating it during December - but I shan’t waste it. Bucking the trend and not handing over your hard earned cash without thinking clearly about it first, is not easy. It’s also not essential for everyone, but the world would almost certainly be a cleaner, more progressive and dare I say it happier place as a result.
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I try wherever possible not to take the easy option and instead elect for what will be best for me in the long run. It’s not always possible though and at times I find myself choosing between the lesser of two evils, as I expect many people do. I wonder how commonplace it is, and how much of an impact it has on the world as a whole, if enough people are making decisions this way.
I think about how many people are working dull repetitive jobs, that contribute very little to humanity - because the only other option is to starve. I think about how many people have ambitions that are stifled by consumerism or politics. I also think about the people in this world who live such simple lives, and how peaceful it must be. Most of all though I wonder, regardless of which end of the spectrum you find yourself in - how do you make your mark on the world? How do you finally break the predefined routine of your society and start really doing something?
I don’t want to spend my life just existing, reproducing and perpetuating the human race as it currently stands. I want my life as both and individual and as a part of humanity as a whole, to mean something. Yet, I don’t know where to start.
Today has been a stressful day. One of many in my life, one where I find myself trying not to think about the complexity of everything and just wanting to escape. I cycled ~16km, it felt good, it cleared my head and I no longer felt overwhelmed. A hot shower, a banana and a cup of Sencha Sakura - before slipping into bed and I am finally calm. I am reminded that even if I felt unhappy today, my life is good.
Tonight I really just wanted to talk, to get some of the countless thoughts that run through my mind out there. I had forgotten about this website, I must have registered it a long time ago - but a tumblr related work inquiry, combined with the recent retirement of my old blog lead me here. Always interesting to me when something serendipitous like that happens.
I have always liked the idea of a clean slate, a fresh start. Sometimes I wonder if that was one of the main reasons I was so keen to go to University, half a country away from my friends and family. As much as I enjoy a new beginning, I have a nasty habit of generating aspirations that are too high, when I am presented with one. I will get a new notebook and decide that this will be the one that I write something to change the world in. I am foolish to think that.
Sure, for some areas of my life setting virtually impossible goals is a good thing, at least in terms of generating results - but nearly always in the form of falling short, yet still getting a lot done. I am fed up with failing though and when given a fresh start - I am in control about how possible and likely failure is. This blog, whatever comes of it, is not a place for lofty goals. I want it to purely be a place to think out loud, regardless of who (if anyone) listens.
This is unfamiliar territory for me, not having a strict set of rules or guidelines. No schedule or agenda to stick to, no objective or purpose. I am equally excited and afraid about the idea of having no boundaries or constraints. I do not know how often I will write here, what I will talk about - nor do I want to. What will be, will be.