Thursday, 1 January 2015

Bring on the New Year. I'm not afraid.

Every year for most of my adult life I've spent New Year's Eve saying: 'Well, I'm glad that's over, let's hope the next one is better.' And 365 days later, there I was again saying 'Well, that was shit, I'm glad it's over.'

I didn't do that this time. In 2014 I was unavoidably closer to 60 than 50, and I don't want to wish my life away any more.

Last night I watched Jools Holland's Hootenanny, like all the other middle-aged people too sensible (or scared) to bother going out. And I scoffed like all the others. Because we all know it's recorded in November. Because of the unimaginative, middle-of-the-road programming. And because it's fun to take the piss.

But when Wilko Johnson came on, I couldn't scoff, because no-one expected him to still be here. And when Jools asked him the usual inane questions about hopes for the new year, he said, basically: Who cares? I'm still here.

I'm still here, and I want to enjoy life because it's too short not to. I'm one of those people who have always found life a bit scary, but I think I'm getting used to it. And, as they say, it's better than the alternative.

2014 wasn't the best of years. It brought pain and struggle to some people I care about. And in the wider world, there was horrific cruelty and injustice, as there always has been and probably always will be. But I am sure that nearly everyone I know is kind, and many of them are idealistic, and I have to believe that that's what is normal.

I felt sadness and despair and anger during 2014, because anyone who notices the world has to feel those things. I also had some happiness and fun and freedom.

2014 was the year I counted my blessings. Every time I remembered I don't have a boss any more. Last year I came across this quote: 'I can’t pretend that freelancing gives you a secure future, because no job gives you that. But it will give you a chance to live life on your terms.' That's my inspiration for 2015.

I'm still scared, and probably always will be, but that's OK. I'm always one job away from being skint, and it could all fall apart any time, but so far I have survived. Life is scary, but it's a scary adventure.

There were changes in 2014. Mainly, it was the year I started feeling my age. My mother had a landmark birthday, and gathered the family together, and I felt things shift. I and my siblings are not the young ones any more. And when I caught sight of my mother's reflection, I saw my grandmother. And now I'm afraid to look at my own reflection.

2014 was the year I became aware of things I can't do any more. I've had arthritis for years. Ten years ago, they told me: come back when you're ready for a hip replacement. I think that might be this year. The alternative is admitting I'll never dance again, and I don't want that.

That's one of things that scare me about 2015. Another one is the election. There's a lot to worry about, if I let myself. I'm not going to stop being angry: there are times when that feels like a duty. But I'm not going to despair, either.  I'm trying to live life one step at a time.

In 2014, things happened to make me revisit my past. I went to a reunion, and after that I started making new friends. It was good to get to know people my own age. The experience made me look back on the person I used to be, and I realised that I've wasted too much of my life being unhappy. I'm not going to let that happen again.

Bring on 2015. It might not be easy. But if I can have some fun, and freedom, and love, that will be enough. If you're reading this, I wish that for you too.

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