We tell ourselves stories. We do it about things we’re doing, things we’re about to do, and things we have done. I tend to do it about the year I’m living. This one was ‘tough’. That one was ‘successful’. The adjective doesn’t matter. The year gets reduced to something less than it was when I was living it.
For example, 2014 is a year I would probably describe in passing conversation as difficult or tough, mostly because of medical issues. As long-time readers know, I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease in April of this year. During two attacks in April I lost enough hearing to make it permanently noticeable and to make the resulting tinnitus far more noticeable.
I am yet to surrender to getting hearing aids, though I will, so maybe that will help. But that was my ‘difficult’. No-one I loved or liked or even didn’t-like-but-knew died. No-one was hurt or injured or starved. When I think about friends of mine who are dealing with real problems (Kate & David or Glenda & Jock, Liza and others), this is pretty minor stuff.
As a counterbalance to this feeling I began to think about some of the good things that happened this year. These include:
- France and England with Sophie! – In August I was stupidly, incredibly lucky enough to travel to Normandy, Paris and London with my now thirteen-year-old daughter. We spent time in a farmhouse near Saint-Martin-de-Landelles in Normandy where we celebrated Ellen’s birthday, visited Mont Saint-Michel, and spent time with Maddy, Greer, Kate and David, Elise and Jean, and the gang. Sophie learnt to play the ukulele a little and fed Pig! We then got to go to Paris (!) where we saw all the things and had the world’s greatest ice-cream and hot chocolate! Then London and the London Eye and Barbara and Matilda and Billy Elliot. So much! It was, even though it had its moments of reality, pretty incredible. Memories for a lifetime.
- Washington – Suddenly, unexpectedly I was traveling to Washington and WFC, for which I will always be grateful, where I got to spend time with Garth, James, Guy, Gary and the gang. There was a walk-through the National Air and Space Museum, late night secret whisky with Guy, Mary, Garth et al., and a lot more.
- Bruce! – This year I saw four Bruce Springsteen shows. He played “Jungleland”!! I stood for somewhere between four hours and a hundred years on a Melbourne Sunday, but it was a lifetime memory that I got to share with my best friend, my brother. I also got to introduce my love, Marianne, to the joy of live Bruce, and made a convert.
- Suzanne Vega – Early in the year we saw Suzanne Vega, and it was unexpectedly wonderful.
- Dunsborough – Two trips to Dunsborough – one at Christmas and one mid-year. A happy, beautiful time with family, even if I was unwell over Christmas.
- Books – I sold books. I’m editing The Best of the Year 9 now, as well as the fourth Infinity anthology and a climate change book (of sorts). I’m hopeful I’ll shortly sell Best of the Year 9 & 10, and am working on several yet-to-be-announced projects.
- Friends – I saw, spent time with, was supported by, loved and laughed with friends around the world. Too many to mention. Alisa, James, Garth, Guy, Ellen and many more.
- The podcast – four years of chatting with Gary and we’re only just beginning to either hit our stride or run out of stuff to talk about, and more to come. Reinvention but continuation, as we push for our first decade doing it.
And there was other stuff. I turned 50! I celebrated fifteen years of marriage to the wonderful Marianne! I spent time with my mum, who drives me to work every day! I discovered whisky seriously for the first time. I found new writers. I read great books. I watched way too much television (that was worth it). I got to work with an amazing team of people at ye olde day jobbe, who are fun and friends and make long days shorter.
So, with all that and more going on (I know I’ve not mentioned some things) I couldn’t possibly call 2014 a bad year or a horrible year. Difficult, yes. Amazing, yes. Filled with memories and joy, definitely.
I have only one real regret. I wish I could bring everyone I know – all of my friends and family from Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Brisbane, London (!), Edinburgh, New York, New Jersey, Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco and goodness-knows-where-else – together for a single night to celebrate, to say “thank you!”, and so my little family could get to know them all and see how lucky I’ve been. It’s easy to forget just how lucky, and while there may only be six people at our Christmas dinner this year, there’s so many more that belong there.