Good riddance, 2020
Updated: Jan 11, 2021
With just a few hours to go until the final day of 2020, I find myself once again in reflective mood. I think it's fair to say that, this time last year I, like almost everybody else, didn't have the tiniest, faintest fraction of a mere notion about what awaited us. Sadly, like the previous decade, I fear that the lows outweighed the highs. But anyway, I'm doing this somewhat self-indulgent post in the hope that be outlining what I hope to achieve in 2021, I might find myself more motivated to actually realise at least some of the ambitions. But before I look forward, I guess I should look back:
REASONS TO BE GLAD TO SEE THE BACK OF 2020
1 Dementia. And all that comes with it; while I knew it was coming, March 2020 was the first time that my dad looked at me and told me he didn't know who I was. In my humble opinion, dementia is, without a shadow of a doubt, the very most cruel of conditions.
2 Losses. Two tragic losses, this year, neither of which were to Covid. My cousin Rob was taken far too soon. While he and I were not close (although we had become Facebook friends a short while before he passed), there was a heartbreaking impact on people who I am a lot closer to. Also, not long before Christmas, and again far too soon, my wife's best friend was taken by cancer. I met her once, during one of my trips to Canada, spoke to her several other times. She went to school with Debs and they stayed friends all this time. They also shared a birthday, and always used to speak to each other on Dec 19. RIP Rob and Patti.
3 Home. Being told back in January that we were going to have to leave our home of 18 years, as the landlord wants to sell in order to retire. And, because I'm so bloody useless with money (you know the phrase "money talks"? All mine ever says to me is 'goodbye'), the most realistic option was to apply to become council tenants. And the stress that this has caused has been unimaginable. Covid has delayed things, but the move will be happening in 2021.
4 Covid-19, and in particularly the impact on my dad's dementia, and the instability around job security, which then led to a few mental wobbles, which returned me to my mutually exclusive relationship with wealth, and the occasional panic attack about our long-term future, and my son's long-term future.
5 Miserably failing to lose weight.
6 Miserably being unable to publish, as I'd hoped, my second children's book, or the final part of my comedy trilogy - I managed to write 40,000 words, but had a huge crisis of confidence and belief in my own ability; plot and structure do not come naturally to me, and it frustrates the living daylights out of me.
7 Beating myself up because, while trying to learn some playing card manipulation techniques, it dawned on me that my hands are quite small and fingers quite short.
8 Invariably - and on the vast majority of occasions - being the one to initiate contact with my 'friends'.
POSITIVE THINGS ABOUT 2020
1 My immediate family steered clear of the virus.
2 Thanks in no small part to the efforts of my boss - for which I will always be grateful - I currently still have a job and a regular wage coming in.
3 My hockey captain is continuing to pick me to play for South Glos B. And in fact, my last two outings were pretty decent performances, which was a welcome boost.
4 Discovering new music/acts that I most likely would never have heard of had it not been for the lockdown. In some cases, I've even had personal correspondence with some of them. Among the musical discoveries new to me are Elles Bailey, Amanda Easton, When Rivers Meet, Gemma Watkins, Noble Jacks, Ashton Lane, Without WIllow, Scarlette and Tally Koren.
5 Finally making it to St Ives, which I've always wanted to visit.
6 The "Sunday morning gang" who queue outside Asda every week. We've got to know each other during Covid, and it's been good fun.
7 The support and encouragement - even to a mere humble hobbyist - from many members of the magic community, who have (and who continue to) inspired and motivated me to take up this incredible hobby. While I beat myself up about my 'small hands' and lack of creative originality, I've been well and truly bitten by the bug in 2020 more than ever before, thanks in no small part to the likes of John Carey, Peter Nardi, Andy Smith, Ben Williams, Paul Gordon, Liam Montier, Jamie Scott, Dave Loosely, Mark Traversoni and others.
SO, that's 2020. What does 2021 hold?
On the down side, dementia and the inevitable house move, and all the stress around the cost and logistics of that, against the backdrop of concerns over job security. On the up-side, we've booked our lodge for Centreparcs to see the Winter Wonderland in 2021.
What do I hope to achieve? Quite simple.
1 Less dreaming, more doing.
2 I'm going to find my smile.
3 I'm going to stop sweating about the things that are out of my hands, and take far more ownership over the things that I can control.
4 I AM going to finish, and publish, and least one, if not two, books in 2021, and make positive progress with my other writing projeccts.
5 I AM going to spend more time working on my magic in a more structured way. A recent live event showed me that even a humble hobbyist can join the Magic Circle, and that's what I'm aiming for.
6 I AM going to lose weight, shape up, eat better and get fitter.
7 I AM going to go all out to keep a few more clean sheets on the hockey pitch!
8 I want to become far more tolerant, too. I've become quite angry this year at the antics of covidiots and those affected by moronavirus; I've become angry at some people who seem to flaunt (even if inadvertently) their wealth and successes and yet then say how tough things are; boy, I would almost KILL to have things as tough as some people have it, and I will have to stop beating myself up about my lack of creative originality in terms of my writing and my magic. If it ain't there, it ain't there. BUT if I get so much pleasure from my writing and my magic (which I do), then THAT should be good enough. If someone else enjoys it too, so much the better. But I HAVE to be able to please myself first. That's something I want to do in 2021, too; become far more comfortable in my own skin, for all it's flaws. (I have concluded that I am, in fact, a flawed genius, the fundamental flaw being that, at 51 years of age, I've yet to discover where my true genius lies.
I am going to stop looking backwards, and focus forwards. And I am going to find SOMETHING to smile about and laugh about every day, because laughter IS the best medicine. It wont cure all ills, but it will make most things feel just that little bit better.
Happy new year to everyone; stay safe, find your happy thought, and laugh. Novel-length note finished (can I count THIS, therefore, as my first 'novel' of 2021? Worth a try - but published publicly so that I can hold myself to account if I fail miserably to not achieve at least some of the things I want to.