Friday, December 29, 2006

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What is it about this time of year that makes us all look deep inside ourselves and evaluate things like who were really are and where we are going in life? Why does the end of a year make us look back at all of the things we have done to see what lessons we've learned?

I've been visiting my regular blog haunts (and some new ones too), and have found several well-written, insightful posts discussing personal and spiritual truths. Even the regular posts by others seem to carry more weight for some reason.

The change from one year to the next has always signified new beginnings for me - which is ironic considering that my life has never dramatically changed once the minute hand slid over to the top of the clock on New Year's Eve. Yet something in many of us seem to be wanting just that - the sensation of a shift inside where we really feel like we've come from somewhere, made it through to the other side of our problems, and found a new outlook on our lives.

With that being said, I have learned a lot this year about myself, my friends and family, and the world. Not just because of moving to a different country - although that did play a part in a lot of mistakes and lessons learned.

How do we write an end-of-the-year blog post? Do we make them funny and self-deprecating or deep and insightful? Do we try to explain the changes that 365 days can bring to a person? Can we sit at our computers and think about how much more grownup we are this year? Do we cry about the things we've lost or mistakes we've made? Or write about the people who have come and gone in our lives, some of whom have made an impact and others who have already faded to memories? Do we think about regrets? Or the dumbass things that the celebrities / politicians did this year? Do we make Top 10 lists about lessons learned, favourite movies, great things we've accomplished, goals for 2007?

Dariush Shafa wrote a wonderfully insightful piece that really captures the spirit of this time of year. Speaking of meetings with strangers (and a BlogFriend) and standing outside oneself to really SEE what our lives have become.

For me, New Year's has always been a time to reflect on personal growth and to try and tie up lose ends before the start of the next year. When I was in high school, I selfishly thought that having a conversation with an ex-boyfriend (whom I had hurt badly) would be a nice way to put things to rest between us, believing in my youthful, arrogant way that my glib apology would be enough to "tie things up before the end of the year". To my shock, he told me off (which I did deserve) and said that things couldn't be wrapped up neatly and put away like that - even though I really wanted them to. For the first time, my teenage self was forced to realize that things didn't always end well and that the best thing to do with regards to improving my life at New Year's was to focus on me and leave other people the hell alone. Putting away visions of teary phone calls with those I'd wronged (where I said sorry and they forgave me), I sat down and wrote a diary entry that lasted for "18 pages - front and back" and felt better.

Years later in a small flat in London, England, I sit with fingers flying at my laptop keyboard, trying to find those elusive personal truths that I can babble about on the phone for hours but don't always come out right when I'm trying to write about them. Maybe the point is just that I can look back on this year and see that I'm a stronger person who knows where I want to be in life, and is looking forward to finding ways of achieving my goals in the new year. Someone who knows that value of friends and family and education and living life to not only better yourself but to better the world around you.

I guess I'm hoping that this post will speak to somebody. Maybe someone on my blogroll will read this and be affected the way I was by Dariush's words, or maybe a person blog-surfing (my word for hitting the "next blog" button) will stop here and think "she's on to something here". Without sounding like I need my ego stroked (although who doesn't enjoy a good massage), maybe that's a realization too: that we blog like this because we want to put something of ourselves out into the world and see what we get back.

So what great insights do I have? What about me is special or unique enough that total strangers (or friends for that matter) will read my blog posts and feel like they've gotten something valuable from the time spent reading my words?

...

Since we're all the sum of our experiences and the parts of the world we've grown up / lived in, each one of us has something different or unique to share. I can tell people without a doubt that little kids are a hell of a lot smarter than we think they are - and that we should really listen to what they have to share. I know that giving a homeless person sitting on the street a sandwich doesn't mean they'll recognize your face three days later when you pass them again. I know that watching fireworks can turn even a stern, disillusioned adult into a little kid. I know that when Canadians travel abroad that they are fiercely patriotic and will talk to anybody who sounds like they're from "back home".

I know that I've chosen a very hard career path in becoming a teacher. It is not an easy job - one full of phone calls from parents who think their child can do no wrong, difficult children, kids with learning or behavioural disabilities, balancing curriculum requirements with daily lesson planning, and being responsible for shaping the learning (and ideas) of extremely impressionable little people who will someday be in charge of our world. Fighting the public perception that teachers get "too much time off" or don't work enough hours because we get long holidays and summers off. Late nights, report cards, standardized testing, and frustrating days will be a familiar part of my working career, but I know I wouldn't change it for anything.

I guess the biggest change in me this year is learning to make the best of things and to stop focusing on what's going wrong. This is pretty ironic - I always used to want to be considered an optimist. Not anymore though. I don't think it's enough.

Now, I'd like to be a realist.

When Big Ben chimes in 2007, I'll stand with 200,000 other people and sing "Auld Lang Syne" as fireworks explode over the river. I'll kiss Jeremy to ring in the new year and feel sad that my friends aren't with us. Time won't stop and the things in my life that haven't been resolved will not suddenly disappear or fix themselves. I'll wake up on New Year's Day still missing loved ones, worrying about money and what's going to happen with his visa.

But I'll also remember how far I've come and feel proud of the person I am. My eyes will widen as I take in a sight that I'll never see again. And I will hope that this New Year will bring peace, joy, and all of the good things that I wish for all of us.


Maybe that's what New Year's is about: the hope that 365 days later we'll sit at our computers and be able to write blog posts titled "The Best Year Ever!!"

If you're not writing that this year, I hope that next New Year's Eve you will be...


Happy New Year

5 Comments:

  • At 1:20 AM, Blogger Craig M. said…

    all I know Melinda is that I'm too busy to ever regret a choice I ever make. Which is alot of them. But I just push it aside and move onto the next day. Sure you can apologize later but whats done is done can't dwell forever on it.

     
  • At 6:54 AM, Blogger Melinda said…

    that's very true Craig - everybody probably has at least 1 thing that they regret (i have a few) but since we can't go back in time, I agree that we need to just move on with our lives.

    Do any of your regrets involve that unfortunate Canada umbrella-hat and eating cake crumbs with no hands from the tray?! heeehee - i just found pictures of that!

     
  • At 1:15 PM, Blogger Beechball * said…

    I have come to realize that no matter what choice you make, there is no wrong decision. What choice you make it the path you were meant to go on and learn from. I could regret dating some asshole way back when who was a complete waste of my time, but it's because of him that I then met Dan... (Cristina Zambelli was engaged to the brother of the douchbag I was dating - after I dumped him, she computer style introduced me to Dan)

    So from everything you do, good or bad, there is something else that comes out of it, that you wouldn't change for anything, therefor making the crappy part leading UP to that point, necessary.

    I hope this helps you to see that no matter what you do, there are no wrong choices to make, just choices.

    :)

     
  • At 1:44 PM, Blogger Melinda said…

    wow - Cristina Zambelli - now that's a name I haven't heard in years and years.

    I agree that our lives are meant to follow a certain pattern and that there are many roads that will likely lead us in the same direction. With that being said - some things are meant to be and I'm very glad that you found something special with Dan - like I did with jeremy.

    When you look at the history of our old group of friends from high school, it's clear that we were all meant to be friends. After all of the drama (lots of which caused by yours truly) it's amazing that we all managed to stay together. Glad you became a part of that!

    Now I'm choosing to go find this cool pub with jeremy tonight - Happy December 30th ;)

     
  • At 5:34 PM, Anonymous MOM said…

    Wow!!! Where did this preceptive, wise daughter come from? When a person can look upon a life of choices realizing the positive and negative reality of these choices then step forward hoping for the best,in my mind, that person will have great sucess on at least a spiritual level which to me is what we must all strive for. You my child will have the 'best new year ever'(For this I pray!)

    Love MOM

     

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