Tuesday, 1 January 2008


“Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” - Hal Borland

The first day of the New Year finds most us in a rather subdued mood. Maybe it is all the revelry of the night before, maybe the alcoholic excesses (or other indiscretions), maybe the review of the year that has just been and gone and the realisation that we are rather lacking in resolve. This may explain the habit that many people have on such a day to make yet another new year’s resolution (and one which usually comes in one year and goes out the other!). I have never been one to make such New Year’s resolutions, but rather I have always liked to look back over the previous year and try to find five or six things that I would like to remember and feel thankful for or proud about. Things that have made this past year one that I would like to press like a flower between the leaves of the book that is my life.

This year has given me much contentment, many things that I feel thankful for. Firstly I am thankful for the life I lead in a country that is generous with its bounty, one where peace abounds and where I can live without worries about where my next meal is coming from or where I shall lay me down to sleep each night. I have a roof over my head, a table that has a meal on it every day and a job that supplies me with all that I need to satisfy my material necessities. How many millions and millions of people around the planet have none of these things that most of us have and take for granted?

The second thing I am deeply thankful for is my family. People that I love and love me, people that make my house a home, people that put a smile on my face, people whose arms are open when I need solace, those who comfort me and support me. They deserve my gratitude and even though I may say thank you to them often enough and even though my deeds may give them proof of my thanks, this written affirmation is also needed, I feel…

Next, I am grateful for my friends. Not only those friends around me that live here in this City, in this country, but friends I have made and whose faces I have never seen, whose hands I have never clasped in friendly greeting. The benefits of technology that allows us all to become neighbours in a global village are surely worthy of appreciation, and to all of you, my 360 friends and acquaintances I extend a grateful greeting for all of your fellowship and companionship in this past year!

This year has been another that I have been blessed with good health. In my job, where disease and death are everyday companions, I know how to value health highly. How many people around me are plagued by ill-health, how many live in constant pain, how many others have diseases that require treatments that are almost as bad as the illnesses they try to cure? How many people waste away and die, not being able to enjoy life? If you have health, you have one of the greatest gifts and you should be truly thankful for this bounty that life bestows on you.

I am proud that in this past year I have been able to make the world a little better for a few people, some close to me, some far away, some known to me some unknown. I am in the fortunate position of being able to help others and do so whenever I can. We do not realise fully the benefits of giving unless we have been in a situation of want and need ourselves. I have been there, and have been helped by other people, something that I never forget. When I help others I feel as though I am helping myself to become a better person and that I am repaying those were generous to me in my hour of need. Keep in mind that giving does not always involve money and worldly goods. One may give one’s time and one’s help, a kindly word – charity is love and to love other people is the basic teaching of most of the world’s major religions.

In retrospect, the year has been a good one. I look forward to the next and I will treasure all that 2007 has given me. I hope 2008 will give me a chance to move forward, but the only way to move forward is to be conscious of the past and learn from history, not only in a general sense, but also in a personal one.

The first of the New Year gives us an opportunity to tally up our successes and failures, to give our thanks, to ask for pardon, to make our amends. A New Year is our chance to be reborn, as Charles Lamb maintains: “New Year's Day is every man's birthday.” A fool repeats the same mistakes twice, a madman repeats them ad infinitum, while the wise learn from their mistakes and eschew them in the future. May your New Year be one full of the contentment of the realisation of one of your expectations, the fulfillment of one of your dreams, the achievement of one of your desires. Each moment of our lives is a gift and gifts must be enjoyed. Use your time wisely, for you are the master of your own destiny.

A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I've played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.
Edgar Guest

What do you have to be grateful for in the year that has just been?

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