A friend and I were discussing our last blog posts of the year. I shot out an off-hand remark “Perhaps I’ll just end the year with lemon sex and silliness. It would be different” at least, I *think* that was the content of it. It was the gist, anyway; that I might allow the last hours of 2014 to fade without attempting to imbue them with anything more vital than high-jinks and a (probably) reasonable recipe for a vegan fruit tart.
However we try to deny it, or diminish it into ‘just another day’, there is a poignancy about the changing of the year, and a reason why so many people mark the occasion with a summary; with acknowledgement of the challenges and triumphs of the last year; with their hopes and intentions for the new year; with purpose.
What that reason is, I couldn’t tell you. Perhaps it is that we, as societal creatures, need the supporting structure of a collective acknowledgement of certain events – the meta-equivalent of a place to hang our hats. In allowing, nay, in encouraging, particular dates or festivities to take on meaning, we generate points in the emotional landscape of our lives around which the rest might be measured.
(Also worth noting, we probably take time to compare how we feel we’re doing against how we think other people are doing – whether we measure up to our perception of their successes (which is a whole can of worms I won’t open now, but you can imagine – it’s huge (and yes, the punchline is ‘worms everywhere’))).
Irrespective, a time of engagement is not to be passed up, especially if it contains an inherent opportunity for explaining, sharing, or otherwise proliferating any of those (hackneyed? not yet, surely!) phrases I love to trot out – “Together we’re stronger”, “We all belong to each other”, and my favourite; “#SilverLinings”. The more readers I can encourage to take on the spirit of each of these and run with them, weaving threads of compassion, social conscience and friendship, like gold and silver, through the tapestries of their lives, the better.
There are so many ways to measure success, and to determine what portion of it has belonged to oneself in the past year. As I look back, it is simpler to identify which of the oft-used measurements which have been distinctly UNhelpful to me – ‘success’ in terms of finances, academia, physical beauty or strength, or the ability to reproduce and raise a family – as opposed to those by which I can consider myself to have done well.
How, then, should I reflect? By what yardstick might I determine whether or not I should enter 2015 with my head held high, striding forward, eyes shining with determination and the knowledge of a year well-lived; or furtively, having swept the debris of 2014’s ructions firmly under that midnight carpet, hoping to be afforded a line in the sand beyond which to start afresh?
The lows, I will keep private. Perhaps you were there for them, picking up the pieces. Maybe you were part of the problem. It might have been that you noticed some awful way I was behaving and pointed it out to me. There is always the possibility that there was something I never shared, finding it too repugnant to broadcast. You know already that I am a firm believer in self-editing, sharing only as much Truth as I want you to know (and this another reason I should never be allowed near any pedestals). It is sufficient for you to know the lows exist; they have been varied, plentiful, awful, and they have had significant impact.
The highs, though…ah, for me there is only one way to measure them – with love.
Love; by which I would prefer to be known.
Love; which casts out fear and pain and loneliness and hatred.
Love; which brings healing and compassion and warmth and joy.
Love; which is the epitome of every Kairos moment, and it is with those that I shall review my year – those shining moments of transcendence, which far outstrip any other experiences, like breathtaking peaks above the fog of the everyday.
I can’t remember the chronology perfectly, and really it doesn’t matter – the moments themselves are more important than their timeframes.
Moment: Receiving a massive, unexpected package from the postman, whilst still in my pyjamas one morning, and opening it to discover an EXPLOSION of glitter and sparkles, and a confusing muddle of wrappings surrounding a GIANT ‘Thank You’ card, which (it transpired) had been all around the world, and had been written in by each of my (at that time) Ten Things of Thankful co-hosts. It is still on my mantelpiece now.
Moment: Opening an email from my wonderful co-Bard to discover that she had responded to my ‘friendly valentine’ in kind, with a hardwired heart drawn on her hand, for me. (Kinda-twinned moment: discovering that I was only the fourth person ever to write her a poem…)
Moment: Mandi teaching me how to send my voice to friends (and hear theirs) on my phone. My mind was BLOWN. We immediately spent an evening sending our accents back and forth, and singing one another songs from My Fair Lady. It made so many friendships immediately more tangible and added a wonderful dimension. It still does.
Moment: Having run my work van out of battery by accidentally leaving the fan on, I spent a hungry, embarrassed few hours waiting for the breakdown man to come and rescue me. Or rather, I would have spent a hungry, embarrassed few hours waiting, but for the fact that Sunset was around to chat, and we spent the most glorious afternoon nattering back and forth on WhatsApp, singing and joking and laughing and talking about all things under the sun. I loved it.
Moment: Waking in the night next to a slightly poorly Neff, comforting him, snuggling him closer, singing to him, stroking his hair and both drifting softly back to sleep.
Moment: Being the Person for my Soulie on the day of her Dad’s funeral, after he suddenly and unexpectedly died. In spite of my own shock and sadness (this being a man who I had known nearly half my life – not closely, but he was always around) I held her and offered tissues and made her laugh. Most importantly I was able to look after her two children while she attended to family. I was there. I was present. It mattered HUGELY, because she does.
Moment: Relaxing in Husby’s arms on our picnic blanket at the beach, under the stars, still salty from my swim in the warm sea, eating some kind of birthday cake, and knowing that I was the right person, in the right place, at the right time, and that everything was right with my world.
Moment: Taking turns with Niece and Neff to try on ridiculous wax lips sent to me by Samara and her son, as part of a Halloween/autumn-cheery-uppy glitterbomb, all giggling and laughing and being snuggled together on the sofa.
Moment: My ‘forever’ friend, who didn’t tell me she was pregnant, bringing her baby daughter to church, and me seeing her and neither of us really knowing what to do or how to handle it, but meeting up at the end and hugging and talking and it all being alright. And her daughter being gorgeous, and me being okay.
Moment: #KissingtheFrog and spending the night chatting through deep thoughts, lovely things, utter inconsequentials, and all things under the stars with Sandy
Moment: Somewhere on a bridge over the motorway, after much confusion and hilarity, meeting Christine for the first time In Real, after so long being friends in the Blogosphere. Then spending HOURS AND HOURS of Real, together.
Moment: Holding Niece and Neff’s hands tighter than tight, standing in the murky, cold ocean on holiday, as we all wondered what the hell that HUGE SWIRL OF WATER JUST AHEAD OF US belonged to, then starting in wonder and amazement as a seal popped its head out of the water to have a good, long look at us from dewy, gorgeous eyes.
Moment: Each time someone valued my writing and my idea enough to buy into the #KickCancersAss campaign by ‘paying’ for my words with a donation to a cancer charity of their choice.
Moment: Showing my Mum and WonderAunty the Kitty on my Christmas tree, and the Beth Painting on my wall, and the #Jessica mug in my Kitchen, and the Sevenly tops in my chest of drawers.
Moment: When Niece took my face in her hands and told me in a *sadvoice* that she wanted to live with me and see me every day (as we were parting ways from our holiday).
Moment: When I received a big box in the mail, and it was an Armchair Tour of All the Vacations, from Beth, who had collected important, meaningful souvenirs and fascinating information about each place she’d visited with her family over summer, and then sent them all to me, because she’s amazing and she wanted to show me some of the parts of the world which were important to her.
Moment: Any time my Goddaughter yells my name and flings herself into my arms for a hug.
Moments: Glitterbombs, videos, photos – love; Vidchats, emails, collaborations – love; Long chats’ late nights, letters in Real – love; Family, friends, acceptance – love; Laughter, hugging, talking forever – love; Silliness, deep thoughts, shared awe – love; Photographs, poetry, flights of fantasy – love…
…and learning, slowly, as I acknowledge more and more, in my conscious, my sub-conscious, my conscience, and my behaviour, that LOVE truly is the greatest of all things: that it can inspire us to reach into the world of someone we care about, and give them a *twinkllysparklyperfect* Kairos-moment gift, just by allowing ourselves to become vulnerable and show them how much we love them.
If I look back at 2014 and measure my life in hearts, Kairos moments and love…then, my dears, it has been a bigger, bolder, stronger-together success than I could ever in a million years have thought possible.
And if you were part of that success, then from my knees, overwhelmed with a tidal-wave of gratitude and happiness, thank you.
I love you.