Now is the time of year to see where we’re going. After all, just like a sailing ship on the ocean, if we don’t check our course periodically, we will drift. And this voyage is one we don’t get the chance to do again.
What I tend to do is look back over the last 12 months. I look at what I can remember of that period, and ask what I did with it. What do I actually remember? Which bits of it will I still remember in a year’s time? If nothing… did I use it wisely?
A dying old man is grateful for every sunrise he sees. One more day is one more victory. But all of us are in fact in the same position. We feel rich, we feel that we have plenty of time. Until, that is, we don’t.
An awful lot of people work away steadily all their lives, doing what they’re told, earning a wage at an office. One day they’re old. They’re tired. There’s a retirement party, and a gold watch. “Good old Bill!” everyone says, “Have a happy retirement!”. But they go home alone. And the next morning, they wake up and … there’s nothing. Their whole life is behind them. “What do I do now?” Suddenly life is empty. But they’re too old now, too tired to start again, to make something of their lives, to fulfil ambitions. “What’s on the box?”
This will surely happen to each and every one of us, unless we force our will upon our lives. Drift is ghastly. Drift is walking on the treadmill, earning money to pay the bills, getting home tired each night.
But we have only this time on earth, for whatever we want to do. Each year gets shorter, as anyone in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s will tell us. What are we doing with it?
The best guide to what we will do next year is what we did last year. In my case, I worked for most of it. I earned money. But I come to the end of the year, and the money is mostly gone. And so is another year of my life. What was 2009, to me? If I died tomorrow — unlikely — and someone wrote an obituary of me — unlikely — what would they say that I did in 2009? What was memorable? In what way did I warm both hands at the fire of life? Or did I just plod on, doing the urgent things, the things that don’t matter once they’re done; and never getting to the important things, the things that warm our hearts and make life worth living.
We’re not ants. We don’t live, just to live. We are men and women, full of the fire of creation, capable of anything and nothing.
In 2010 I shall go to Syria and Lebanon. That much, at least, I will mark on the pages of my life. That much I shall remember when I am old and tired; that in 2010 I got onto an aircraft and flew out to the East.
Indeed one of the few things I can recall from 2009 is that I made a day-trip to Edinburgh. A small thing; but whatever became of the other 364 days!?! I cannot well say.
Grab hold of life. All of us have things we want to do. I want to see the Northern Lights. I want to see an iceberg. I want to see a glacier calving. I want to see an active volcano. I want to go to Australia. I want to go to the South Seas, and see coral beaches and palm trees on the Indian ocean, as I did when a child. The beach along which I walked at the age of 5 may have long since been washed away, but in my mind I still stand under the palm tree and look at the lagoon and hear the roar of the surf and see the blue water, and baskets of red starfish by the roadside.
These memories I store up in my heart, against the cold times. I have been remiss this year, in filling the granaries of my heart. Now is the time to plan, to book, to divide the year into sections and to make things happen. They don’t have to be expensive things. They just have to be things that we want to do, which are neither trivial nor tedious. For remember; next year, we shall be just a little more tired again. It gets harder, not easier.
In this way only may we reach year end with contentment.