“If you’ve ever been homesick, or felt exiled from all the things and people that once defined you, you’ll know how important welcoming words and friendly smiles can be.” Stephen King, 11/22/63
There are a few things at the core of my personality, as with most people, things I keep close, things I am a bit proud of. When I sat down a few days ago to try to write something about the year that is passing I stumbled on a strange feeling, the feeling that I’ve drifted a little from some of these things that have been a close companion to my self worth for a long time. It’s been a strange year for me, a difficult year though not as wrenching as 2014 was. January kicked my ass (again! Oh please let this January be a kind one!), but the rest, more or less, treated me decently.
What was lacking, two things that are a big part of what makes me me, was reading and running. Don’t get me wrong, I read and I ran, but not as much or as often as I’d want to.
I learned a few truths though, particularly one that changed my outlook on life, more so than you’d think when hearing the idea.
Life is too short to search for matching socks.
This may sound silly, stupid even. It’s not exactly a statement worth the great philosophers who thought and therefore they were, or who came up with things like the theory of relativity. Either you don’t mind wearing unmatched socks or you do. It’s not a life altering thing! But for me it was a bit. Before you would NEVER see me wearing unmatched socks, I’d rather go barefoot in the cold clutches of winter than being seen in socks that don’t match. Realising this was like, I imagine (and forgive me the comparison), finding Nirvana (the state of mind, not the band) or like finding out that the answer to some unknown question about life, the universe and everything is 42 (an age I’ll incidentally be passing in the upcoming year). It was like finding that personality thing when you were a kid. Finding something out about yourself, something you liked and something you loved and something that would be you for a very long time, maybe for the rest of your life. It was a relief. A chance to let go of some old rules, a chance to change a bit and at the same time to go back to (thankfully) who you used to be before…
…before the thing that swallowed me and my personality whole and left me an anxious mess.
It was like coming home after a long time away. Or like discovering the truth behind the secret of the lost socks. I haven’t found that one out yet, though, but if I ever do I promise I’ll share. It might possibly be another life altering thing. It might even bring around world peace, because the secret behind the missing socks has to involve some grand evil. But the act of not matching your socks kind of negates that evil.
I’ve discovered other things, less important things, like the fact that I love to dabble in visual creativity. I’ve spent a lot of time, the past two years (and more) mucking with photographs. This year, however, I did something I had never done before. Or not since I was about 12 and was deciding that it was idiotic to wear unmatching socks. I painted and I loved it. I may not be any good at it, but it’s a very rewarding thing to do something like that for the “first” time.
I did another thing for the first time. I published a book. A short book, but a book none the less. It was a terrifying experience, a delightful one and it taught me a thing or two. And that’s something I’d like to repeat if I get the chance.
So I’m hoping that 2016 will be a year of more firsts and good seconds. I am going to read more non-fiction. I’ve often set reading goals, my reading challenge for 2015 wasn’t very ambitious. I think I managed everything on that list except maybe the “should have read in high-school” point. Once upon a time my goal was to read 100 books a year. I’ve drifted far from that, I tell you. I blame the fact that I don’t have a designated reading chair, though social media, kid-interruptous and TV games may have more to do with it. But I’m going to read at least ONE non-fiction book in the upcoming year and I’m going to try to read what I WANT to read, about things that interest me, but I’m also going to try to challenge myself to read the hard things. You know – the things that are hard to read, but rewarding once you’ve done it.
I might even try to finish some of the gazillion books that are currently on my “currently reading” list.
I’m also hoping that I will get to run more in the year to come. Because the experience keeps my mind working and I feel free and close to something great when I’m out there making my heart pump a little faster. It’s a sense of freedom I learned from friends as a child, walking in the country heading somewhere or nowhere in particular, just being outside in the wild. Those same friends woke up in me the wish to write and for those two things I’m forever grateful, though they have little idea of this, I fear. It’s a sad thing loosing contact with friends but thanks to Facebook I now do have a glimpse of them again.
I’m hoping that the year to come will cure me of the reading slump I’ve been in for a long while now. Because the world I live in is much duller without the fantastical worlds other minds have conjured up.
And I’m hoping the next year will treat me kindly. And that it will treat you kindly. And the world we live in.
2015 was the year of the matching socks discovery, may the next year bring us something half as good and we’ll do fine.
Happy New Year whoever you are! May the year bring you good things as you stop trying to find those matching socks and thank you for all those welcoming smiles.