It’s the end of a decade. (And yes, you are excused if that opening sentence has you humming a certain ABBA song.) Soon, we’ll have survived two decades of the new century, of the third millennium. I remember thinking back in 1999 that here I was, mother of four and borderline middle-aged entering a new, unknown era. Two decades on, I can conclude I was nowhere close to middle-aged back then. I mean, I am middle-aged right now, so back then I was young—very young! I am betting that two decades from now, I’ll look back on this year and smirk at my middle-aged nonsense as seriously, how could I have been middle-aged back in 2019 when I am so energetic and chipper in 2039?
What I may think about my younger self in 2039 is shrouded in mystery. Will I be basically the same person then as I am now? I think so. Most people I have known for a long time change rather little on the inside, despite the passing of the years. Yes, we are shaped by events, by the obstacles we are faced with, but a person who is a “the glass is half-full” kind of person retains that positive outlook on things—no matter how old they get. Likewise, the “it can only get worse from here on” personalities tend to wander through life with low expectations and an even lower capacity for joy, albeit that now and then they can pat themselves on the back and say “See? I was right! Things did get worse.”
I belong in the former category. Life is mostly a wonderful adventure—but now and then I am overcome with the insight that it is an adventure with an end date. And while I am hoping to sit there in 2039 and chuckle at my age-related angst, I am twenty years older now than in 1999 and no matter how I twist and turn things the years left to me are far fewer than those I have already lived. There are moments this makes me somewhat blue…
“It struck me some days ago that I will never buy a new sofa,” I told one of my best friends.
“Eh?” he said.
“I am too old,” I said. “The sofa I have now will probably outlast me!”
A long silence met this remark and then I think I heard a suppressed chuckle.
“Hello?” I said.
I was met by a long and loud fit of laughter.
I take this to mean that I have, as yet, not bought my last sofa. I will be sure to update you on that in 2039. If I remember. (You may note that I am assuming I will still be around)
New Year is a tricky holiday for me. As you’ve already gathered, it is a holiday closely related to the passing of time. One year is done, a new one stands ready to step out into the bright light of day, welcomed by popping champagne corks and bursts of fireworks.
When I was a child, the last hours of the old year were an absolute torment. My parents believed in doing a thorough recap, an assessment of how well we had lived up to our New Year’s resolutions. As we all know, those resolutions tend to be on a grand scale, so usually we hadn’t. Lived up to them, I mean. Plus, of course, this was a Swedish home and Swedes excel at self-flagellation, which didn’t exactly cheer things up.
Instead, this led to serious discussions about setting goals and striving for them, and…Let’s just say that since I became an adult I have not made one single New Year’s resolution. I won’t do so this year either – I do not need more goals and challenges. Like most of us, I find life itself is something of a challenge and the ultimate goal must reasonably be to learn from the wrenches life/fate throws into the works and always strive to be a better person today than you were yesterday. Not exactly a walk in the park, that…
Anyway: Here we stand at the end of a decade. Before us stretches the unknown and while many of us do not have a single explorer’s gene in our body—we would no more go traipsing off to explore the African jungles or the wilds of Antarctica than we would stick our hand into a vat of boiling oil—we are actually all on an exploratory journey. From the day we are born to the day we die, we are all in fact, explorers. Explorers of life, or ourselves and the people we care for. Best suit up, peeps: you know, robust khaki wear and one of those nifty tropical helmets and good, stout boots//the gear you need to embrace the fantastic adventure that is life.
See? The distant horizon beckons. So much more to see and discover. So much more to do and experience. Life, dear peeps, is one huge oyster. Make sure you slurp down as much of it as you can!
No matter where your explorations take you I hope 2020 turns out to be a good year for you.
I hope 2020 is a year defined by more “come together” than 2019.
I hope it is a year in which we become a bit better at taking our responsibility for the planet and its future, for the lives of our as yet unborn descendants.
I hope it is a year in which all of us try—really hard—to be a better person tomorrow than we are today. If all of us do that, then I think 2020 has the potential to be a fabulous year.
Happy New Year!