Monday, January 6, 2014

Year's End, New Beginnings

Dear George,
Since I was a kid, I’ve worried that years rush by too quickly.  It seems like you just get done with Xmas and then here’s the next one coming around already.  Of course, there’s a big difference between such worries at age ten, when there’s an expectation of endless time, and senior citizenhood, which some say is a more perilous venture. Ever since I began this blog I seem to spend more time evaluating each year at its end.  This New Years I decided to make up a year-end quiz.  In case a reader wishes to try it, it goes like this: 

(1)  Which of the following words (given here in alphabetical order) best describes 2013 for you?  Boring; challenging; confusing; exciting; frustrating; miserable; pleasant; surprising; other (specify: _______)

(2)  What is the most fitting metaphor for your year in 2013?  “My life in 2013 was”: a bouquet of roses; a frightening nightmare; a journey to new places; a prison cell; a quiet pond; a roller coaster; a six-course banquet; other (specify: _______)
(3) In which of the following areas were you (a) most satisfied and (b) least satisfied in 2013?:  Marriage and family; health and fitness; friends and social life; music, art, and theater; travel; work; hobbies; movies/TV/media; other (specify: ________)

(4)  Compared to the previous ten years or so, was your life in 2013: (a) much better; (b) somewhat better; (c) about the same; (d) somewhat worse; (e) much worse.

(6)  In 2013 what was your most rewarding experience?  Your most painful or distressing experience?

(6)  What do you hope to do in 2014 that you didn’t do in 2013?      

My own quiz results were reasonably positive. Though we didn’t go to Paris or climb a glacier, I’ve taken advantage of the freedom associated with retirement, and my daily activities have been centered on things I enjoy: hikes with the sheepdogs, blog writing, photography, art museums and galleries, camping, writing poems, working out at the fitness center, line dancing, musical theater, Friday night movies, outings with friends.   This year I joined Katja in taking classes in the “learning in retirement” program at the university, and that’s been more fun than I expected.  At Katja’s initiative we’ve enjoyed subscriptions to the opera, symphony, chamber music, and university drama/musical/opera series.  We’ve had multiple get-togethers with our NOLA family and grandkids, including driving to Louisiana with the sheepdogs at Thanksgiving.  Katja and I took the dogs on an August camping road trip up the Lake Michigan coast in the Lower Peninsula, with all that water and beautiful scenery.  Katja had an enjoyable vacation trip to New York City; I visited those sweet grandchildren in NOLA.  There were lots of pleasant times, though few happenings that one might call spectacular.   

My New Year started with an unanticipated transition.  At about 10 a.m. on New Year’s Eve day the computer center notified me that the hard drive on my office computer had crashed and I’d lost all the files I’d accumulated over the past ten or more years.  Along with lots of personal material, this included all the electronic remnants of my academic career: papers I’d written, drafts of research manuscripts and essays in progress, lecture notes, records from my term as department head, correspondence, etc.  It’s as if my entire academic career evaporated in a single moment.  On the one hand, that was a startling shock.  On the other, it was sort of a relief.  I have a lot of trouble letting go of accumulated stuff, and a crashed computer confirmed that my career has irrevocably ended. 

Given my computer disaster, I’ve been thinking about 2014 in a new way.  2013 is over and done, and it’s time to set aside the past and work on new beginnings.  As they say, “out with the old, in with the new.”  That could mean ending old things (e.g., spending less time at the computer); doing more of liked things (e.g., reading more New York Times articles); and adding new activitiess (e.g., new arts and crafts projects, travel).  In any case, when I do my quiz again twelve months from now, I hope I’ll be able to say that 2014 was “much better” than the preceding decade.  Six days into the New Year, it’s been pretty good so far.  That is, except for the Bengals’ and Packers’ NFL playoff losses.

G-Mail Comments
-Gayle C-L (1-7):  David,  Once a Professor ALWAYS a Professor !!!!  Happy New Year!!  XXX
-Phyllis S-S (1-7): Dear Dave,  I think you are a 1/2 full glass person - nonetheless - I am sorry again that your computer at work crashed.  I HATE thinking and looking for a new car.  It continues.  Loved the questionnaire - I'm so happy it turns out though I'd guessed that was true - I could still improve my happiness rating though.  Did I tell you that last year I read a book I found in a thrift store that had been a big bestseller called "The Happiness Project?"  I found it really worthwhile.  Stay warm,  Phyllis

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