OK, I’ve managed to wriggle through 2017 relatively unscathed, working quietly, tweeting too much, running up and down hills with my children, and hurling myself into the sea. I’ve even managed to put out some short fiction (results pending) and I have a shamefully late but nevertheless still-progressing book on the hob.
But I’m not going to pretend that 2017 was relaxing. Look at the STATE of things. Our country… years of recession and austerity and a botched and xenophobic withdrawal from the EU, on a bedrock of self-serving MP/MEP lies and spin. (See also: “sovereignty” redefined as old men’s lust for the big, pink empires of their youth.) That’s east. Now, who fancies looking west? I’d kick back with a scotch and enjoy the show, but I have kids and I care. And that makes it not funny at all.
That said, as 2018 starts, I’m feeling cheerful. Our family relies on my good health, so in late 2017 when I was tested for cancer, it was proper scary. I was lucky; I’m fine and 2018 starts with relief. Still, anxiety shaped my 2017. People react to stress in different ways; some talk, offload, cry, drink, or collapse. I swim and run. (Actually I’d prefer to drink late night malt with a friend who didn’t need me to speak, but you know, hen’s teeth and busy lives.)
So I spent a lot of 2017 running with my dog. He’s thick, he doesn’t even understand corners or gravity, let alone me, and he smells bad – but he’s better than nothing, even though he ruins the actual running experience with his constant sniffing, peeing, pooping and chasing after cats that turn around and rip up his face — or small dogs that look like cats and inspire vicious little old ladies to shout at me.
Running was still a relief. After alternately bleeding and healing for 4 months, forcing my legs up and down hills took sufficient effort (and caused enough pain) to make me focus on the here and now, driving out other stresses. There are few forms of mindfulness more effective than trying to force your body to run when it’s short of air. Endorphins are my drug of choice.
Likewise, throwing myself into a winter sea.
So I’ve landed in 2018 with a lot of new muscle. I feel strong and want to run up bigger hills, to shout with more vigour, to get things done. To run and swim with an evangelical intensity. To write with soul, to finish drafting this book and get it edited and submitted. To carve out the career that I still have the energy to throw myself into. To take my children up mountains and show them the edges of the world that might, one day, help them survive the rough times. And if I hit the jackpot, I might even find that friend who understands me without words. Definitely, I want to achieve something meaningful with this life that I’ve been allowed to keep (for now).
Because it’s always “for now”.
So, come on, 2018. Come on.
Happy New Year, Everyone!
Wishing you a happy, healthy and successful 2018.