It was the best of years, it was the worst of years… A misquoted cliché (with all due respect to Dickens) is worth employing if it’s true.
And in this case it couldn’t be more apt. At one point in 2014 I stood marvelling atop a snow-covered mountain in Korea and thought – ‘I’ve come a long way from Islington,’ yet at another I wrestled with and lost against hopeless despair as I said goodbye to the most important man in my world.
There were the highs: sensational helicopter rides along the stunning coastline of Oman, and reigniting the joy of driving behind the wheels of such exquisite toys as the Alfa Romeo 4C and Lotus Exige S Roadster.
But there were plunging lows, including moments of brutal self-evaluation and doubt, of frantic calculations of viability, and of being racked by guilt at not personifying the son, the father or the husband that I truly aspire to be – but fall so unwittingly far, far short of.
I suppose I’m not alone in this respect. The vagaries of crushing disappointment undoubtedly afflict the vast majority of people out there who, like you and I, are just trying to get by.
And then there are those far more wretched and persecuted souls struggling in the unrelenting face of geopolitical tyranny, or murderous fanaticism, or unhinged capitalism devouring the finances of the many for the gain of the bastardous few. Or indeed being sacrificed to the grind of all of the above.
Confronted by the gravity of horror this year has inflicted on fellow man less fortunate, I grimace, I flinch, gulp down the lump in my throat, utter a silent prayer and finally concede that, for me personally, despite the let-downs and losses, things are not so bad. I have my health, I’m passionate about my work, and I have a beautiful family that loves and supports me.
So as arbitrary and arguably irrelevant as a New Year’s Day is, for it is little more than a symbolic flag in the forever shifting sands of time, it’s always a good marker at which to stop, take stock, say farewell to burdens past and embrace a welcoming and hopeful future. Hope, faith and optimism is what drives humanity forward, and let us not risk ever extinguishing these glowing beacons that telegraph the never ending promise of light at the end of the tunnel.
Bring on 2015! Time to draw up New Year’s Resolutions (and promptly ignore them).