Iím calling this column the cleanup column.
In less than 18 hours, 2013 will be a memory and 2014 will be firmly in place. How was your year? Did you make progress? Did you fall a few rungs? Start a family? Lose a loved one? Gain weight? Lose weight? Did you take that skiing lesson you always wanted to, or did you chicken out again?
Did you learn to appreciate life, or did you spend 2013 as oblivious as ever?
I turned 40 in 2013, a milestone to most of the Westernized world, but just a number to me. I truly donít put much importance on the age number. Does the leaf? Does the fly? Does the tortoise?
Human beings are the only creatures that measure their life in mathematical distances and spaces, and I believe that hinders us because categorical living requires specific expectations and expectations limit us.
I received a few emails concerning my last two columns, one about my Christmas list and the other about resolutions.
From Dan, a Franklinville resident: ìI lost 45 lbs. last year, and the only thing I really changed in my diet was soda pop. I stopped skipping breakfast, too.î
Another email, from a man whose name he did not offer, struck me as significant, if for no other reason that it affirmed what I always believed: ìI used to do all these diets cause Iíve always had a weight problem, but they never worked. Nothing I tried lasted. I lost a couple pounds and that was it. Then I started exercising ó and not just walking. I learned you have to break a sweat to lose weight. I lost 25 lbs. last year and itís stayed off. Hope you tell your readers.î
Those were the only two emails I received regarding weight loss. The remaining three emails I got concerned personal wishes for the upcoming year. One email from a woman said she wished that her son would leave the military life and get a regular job because, well, she wasnít a big supporter of current overseas campaigns. She asked if I had children and I said I did ó 14 and 8 ó and she responded that those were good ages, when life wasnít too complicated for either the child or the parent.
I think all stages of life are complicated ó be it at 8 or 14 or 28 or 40. I learned that friendships at 8 are friendships that are genuine and mysterious, and because of that arenít meant to last. At 14, I learned how to keep quiet and make my own decisions, but I also learned how dangerous that is if abused. At 28, I learned that most of our youth is spent living illusions and that reality, while beautiful and grand in itself, is oftentimes difficult to accept.
And 40? What have I learned so far ó be it as accumulated knowledge or within the past nine months since I turned 40?
Iíll be honest with you. I just donít know with any certainty what I have learned, and I suspect many of you feel the same way.
But Iíll still wish you a Happy New Year anyhow, and I hope first-time and/or continued self-awareness in 2014 does not elude you. After all, itís all we really have in the end.
(Feel free to contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org.)