Hello 2013

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Astonishingly, it’s nearly February 2013 and yet only now do I have a moment to sit down to reflect on what was an eventful 2012! I’m aware that with it being almost a whole month into 2013, any reflection of 2012 is fast losing its relevance. However, this was something I had planned to write in December and so owe it to myself to try and bash something out to give tribute to what was one of the best years of my life.

2012 started with me moving out of home into a flat to live on my own – the beginning of a new era it seemed. This was a monumental event as it suddenly transformed my relatively stress free life into one of overwhelming amounts of “admin”. I was constantly on the phone to sky to sort out my sports subscription (a priority); I would have endless and mundane conversations with uninterested civil servants regarding council tax; and worst of all I had to sort out my bills by giving out the exact same information to numerous companies! After this passed, I found that moving into a new build did not mean that I wouldn’t encounter problems. My shower blurted out cold water, my heating didn’t work and I couldn’t work out how to use the oven. My “problems” were compounded after being terribly broke after the payment of my first month’s rent.

Was this moving out thing really worth it? Well, it’s taken me a year to finally accept that it kind of is. Coming home to watch and eat what you want, playing music and dancing half naked without judgment are just some of the perks. Overall, just having my own place is perhaps the most liberating thing that could have happened to me as a young adult.

As early 2012 progressed, I encountered my first set back: a break up. As far as break up’s go, it was as amicable as it could be and in all of the circumstances it was the absolute right decision. Despite that, it was a difficult and challenging period which I wasn’t at all ready to deal with. With break ups, as with all seemingly “bad” experiences, there comes a time when things “click” and rather than wallowing in what appears to be a real depression, you wake up and look at the experience as something you are meant to go through – almost a blessing. During that “depression” stage, staggeringly frequent mistakes are made – and believe me I made many of them. This is the worst stage, but this is where you realise just how lucky you are. Your family get you through. Your real friends come out of the woodwork to make you laugh and give some good and sometimes frankly appalling advice. Ironically, during a period of apparent loss, you remember that you haven’t actually lost anything. The overused cliché of “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” began to resonate with me after two decades.

When that “click” happens, everything shifts and you start to see the gift in the “bad” situation rather than being a victim. You end up being grateful for the experience and to the person at the heart of it and wish them well for their positive role in your life. This overall experience also led me on a path of trying to understand myself and others a bit more after realising that I didn’t really know much at all! This all led to me reading many inspirational and spiritual texts from brilliant writers like Wayne Dyer and Eckhart Tolle on what now seem like basic common sense concepts like “let the past go” “change the way you look at things and the things you look at change”.

Once you absorb such life changing wisdom you can’t really go back. It’s like learning to drive. Once you acquire that knowledge, you cannot forget it – it seeps into your subconscious. I wouldn’t say that I have completely changed, but I approach life and look at all situations with a different perspective. One concept that is life changing – but so basic that it is astonishing how you can get through life without being aware of it – is that the present moment is all there ever is. When you think about it, a light bulb switches on in your brain. The past is gone, even 2 seconds ago. It is gone and is not coming back. The future is not here, you can only change it with action NOW. What we tend to do is dwell endlessly on the past and wish it was different. We feel guilty, we suffer, but it’s all pointless because nothing in the past can change. We fear the future and that can make us anxious now. We create mind projections of what ‘could’ happen in the future and that creates fear. But, when you take it apart, you fear a mind projection. The anxious feeling does not relate to anything based in reality. And when the event you fear finally comes round, don’t you always find that it’s never ever THAT bad? Therefore, all we can do is deal with the present moment and do the very best we can during it.

Intellectual understanding of these concepts is one thing – a good thing. However, practise is how things actually change. If you take the example of first aid, I could read all the books on first aid and know conceptually what to do. But, reading the material will not enable me to perform first aid. It would help merely being aware of the concepts, but I need to go out there and do it! This is how we ought to approach new information.

I applied this new information to my next setback: my appendicitis. Although I was in the hospital, I looked at it as a blessing rather than feeling sorry for myself. I made new friends, I got better, I newly appreciated the NHS and most importantly, I got to spend quality time with my family. At the time, I couldn’t see how I was going to get time off work. I was (and still am) embroiled in a major case at work that booked me up for a year. And then the appendicitis came to the rescue! I know it seems a little warped, but I feel that this illness was a blessing of sorts! I even lost a little bit a weight which nearly always helps!

Externally, other amazing things were happening in 2012. Chelsea somehow (and I’m still working out how) won the Champions’ League. Events this season have emphasised just how fortuitous and Liverpool 2005-esque this win really was. There was the Euro’s with Spain showing how great they were despite the presence of a worn down Fernando Torres. We also had the amazing Olympics which I actually got to watch most of from my hospital bed. I found new love for obscure sports like Handball and I truly got into the Team GB buzz throughout. The Queen’s jubilee was a bit meh, but the sense of community and pride we had as a nation will stay with me for life. And how can we forget Barack Obama beautifully winning a historical second term in office, batting off Mitt in the process.

What a year 2012 was. I feel more confident, fitter, learned and optimistic and it looks like 2013 will be another big year. Everything that has happened was for a reason and just embracing it and making it a friend has ensured that I am the best that I can be for myself and all those who are special to me in my life. This is not to say that I’m blissfully happy as I’m more than aware that shit could change at any minute. We should be as happy and content as can be, but this not time for complacency or it is a time for fear, dread or victimhood – let’s get out there and enjoy life and not let it bitch-slap you around. We will deal with the troubles and challenges only as and when they arise.

As the years go by I find that I do not care that much about the thoughts and opinion of others. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older or maybe because of this new wisdom? Approval is nice, but I do not need it. This attitude, one of independence, is incredibly liberating and what follows is an awareness that whenever we feel bad, it’s usually because of what someone else MAY think rather than the reality. We shouldn’t make assumptions, because that is the fast track to needlessly feeling crap.

Goodbye 2012! You’ll be missed! Happy 2013 to all!

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