Saying Farewell to 2011

It's one minute past midnight here and my little family is tucked up asleep while I try to write on through the night. (I need to finish writing a book and sometimes the cruel hours are the best hours to do it.) It has been a sublime night here; warm and dense with the scent of jasmine and lamb chops being cooked on barbecues. The sky stayed pink for the longest time and the sight of it glowing rose was enough to make people stop jogging and take photos on their iPhones. It was such an exquisite evening that I took the dogs for a long walk, firstly through the village and then through the forest behind it. I met a handful of other villagers who were also walking their dogs in the quiet of the evening, and we chatted about how lovely the lilacs were, and how pretty all the hydrangeas looked after the deluge of rain.  I peered (as I always do) over the picket fences, admiring the planting schemes of the cottage gardens and wondering if ours would ever look as beautiful. It was a night of reflection, admiration, and quiet appreciation.

This year has been a terrible year for many people. Including us. In fact, some journalists are calling it a cataclysmic year, and for once I wouldn't say they're sensationalising their copy. It has been a truly appalling twelve months. Floods, storms, global economic woes, unexpected job losses, strange illnesses, career setbacks, relationship breakdowns, a plummeting real estate market and many other extraordinarily awful things have tested our collective spirit this year. Apparently, December 2012 is going to be a fairly apocalyptic few weeks, if you believe the "2012 Phenomenon", but quite frankly I don't know how things can get much worse. I think the world has hit rock-bottom, don't you?

The thing is, bad times never last, and this year – thank goodness – is on its last wobbly legs. It doesn't have much strength left and soon we'll be entering a fresh new era. 2011 will seem like a summer thunderstorm that's come and gone in a flash of lightning. And when it finally passes, the air will feel calmer and clearer – as it always does when a thunderstorm moves through. It's like a cleansing process that has to happen as part of the larger cycle of life. As Woody Allen once said, the rain helps wash away the dusty memories from the sidewalk of life...

So if you've had an atrocious year and are still feeling the pain of it, hang in there, as the new year is almost here. Take your loved ones, or your dog, and go for a walk in the pink light of twilight. Look at a garden, or a sunset, chat to a neighbour, or arrange to meet a friend in the park. Talk about happy things. Remember the good parts of your life. Then go home and hug your kids, or your partner. Pour yourself a Christmas drink. Pull a cracker. Open a box of chocolates. And sing a carol. Out loud.

Winston Churchill once said, "If you're going through Hell, keep going". It's a good philosophy.

Let's all look forward to 2012.

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