I think many of us would agree that 2016 has been quite an odd year. Mine was no exception so I wanted to take the time to capture what I have learnt. This has been a year for me when I have had more opportunity to stop and reflect. This has been helped by times with caring and insightful friends plus some professional support too.
- Trust is easily misplaced. Some people abused my trust during the year and some people earned it. Some people are not honest to your face – but as I don’t want to live in a world where I fear to trust people I will continue to do so. This means that I will get hurt but I will accept that as the price for living the way that I want to.
- Friends come and go. When things change in your life some friends will offer you support, others may not be able to do so. If your friendship is built on working in the same place it may not survive when one of you moves on. Some acquaintances will become friends and some friends will become acquaintances. Some old friends will reappear when you need them and some won’t. Some friendships are temporary and some are not.
- Resilience grows through adversity. I have survived things I never thought I would have. They have been hard to the extent that I seriously considered committing suicide. I feel stronger now as a result of what I have experienced and I am grateful for what I have experienced.
- Change is inevitable. The Buddhist philosophy of impermanence has resonated with me a lot during this year. I realise how what I thought was good – I didn’t really enjoy at the time because I was frightened of losing it. I have seen that when things are bad they get better.
- Worry is a waste of time. This year has been one of surprises. Not all of them good. Many of the things I worried about, never happened and many of the things that did happen I could not foresee. I am trying to waste less energy worrying in the future and enjoy what I can in the present.
- Work is just a job. Work is important and many of us put a lot of ourselves into our work because we want or have to do so. But it does not define us and jobs can be replaced. Sometimes what we put into our work is not appreciated. Sometimes others take the credit for what you do. Sometimes our best intentions are not acceptable. Sometimes our objectives are not in alignment with others. Sometimes it is easy to find work and sometimes it isn’t. Some work is valued more than other. Some work is paid more than other. These last two especially may bear no correlation to each other.
- Contentment can be found in unusual places. I realised that in rushing around I was not enjoying the good things around me. I appreciate my friends and family more now than at the start of the year. I also find more contentment in daily activities such as driving, shaving and dog walking now. In fact shaving has become a daily delight for me, when previously it was a complete chore. I’ve been able to get a selection of old razors and new soaps. I’ve acquired a skill in using these old razors and get a much better shave now too.
- Truth seems to be irrelevant. I came across the phrase “post-truth politics” during this year. Since understanding what it means I’ve become more aware of it in other areas of my life. I see it on social media and in the work place – people jumping to conclusions or making arguments with little factual basis. I am trying to keep a more open mind and check my own assumptions before reaching conclusions.
- Compassion is not newsworthy. There is a lot of compassion in our world but it doesn’t seem to get the recognition that it deserves. It is very easy to feel that all around us is going wrong and that as a society we are less caring. But every day there are lots of small kindnesses that make a difference to people on a small scale. It is a shame that collectively we don’t celebrate this more but we should not let that stop us from doing so individually. As the Queen said in her Christmas speech “On our own, we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice, but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine.” – my aim for 2017 is to do more small acts of goodness than I did in 2016.
- Politics is personal. This was the year that I learnt that LGBT people were also sent to concentration camps during the holocaust – as a gay man how could I not have know this before. Possibly because so few LGBT people told their story as they were re-imprisoned after the end of the WWII. Although I was reminded that the animosity towards LGBT people from politicians and religious leaders is political in nature and should not be taken personally – it still hurts me. Maybe it shouldn’t but it does and I hope that inspires me to speak up against hatred when I need to.
So after reflecting on these I do wish you and those you care for a happy and loving new year.
I’m smiling for you. Despite the turmoil of 2016, your reflection reveals you are better placed for a more enjoyable and rewarding future, which I wish you with all my heart.
I was sad in 2016 to lose a number of friends, who because I voted Leave in the Referendum decided I was an ignorant racist.