This has been a difficult year, particularly for those of us who keep watching our icons depart this earth. It reminds us of time passing. We lose people, days, weeks, months, we wonder at the years passing and how can it be that we are that old already? We feel the bite of time’s cold grip, and fight to resist the forces of ageing that remind us that yes, Bowie was already famous when we were born, and yes, maybe we haven’t achieved everything we thought we would.
What have I lost this year?
Mostly, illusions. This has been a year where I finally understood that the stories I have been telling myself are time-limited, and I simply don’t have any time left.
I’ve lost any illusion I had about the world being a place where justice, good sense and common decency will prevail, as I watch two political systems sink under the weight of ignorance, arrogance and capitalist supremacy.
I have completed my contract as an external examiner for a great institution.
I have lost a few people too, not irrevocably, but as part of the inevitable attrition of life moving on.
I’ve almost lost a part of my body (surgery pending….)
What have I gained?
A realisation that life is way too precious to waste a minute.
Why do we waste time on things that don’t matter, and yearn for more time to do the things that really do matter?
A renewed love of writing. I have published so many academic things this year, and found that I love what I do. But I still love to write fiction, and I have completed two novels this year (just squeezing the second one in the last few days of 2016). I completed my midwifery memoir which leaves me feeling both excited and terrified.
I have gained a closer relationship with my sister and niece, who have become my upstairs neighbours.
I have gained a new insight into the rare and precious gift that is womanhood, motherhood and midwifery, and I am more determined than ever that every woman should have the chance to know and understand her body and the forces that act on it throughout her lifetime.
And I’ve both lost and gained my confidence.
The most important thing I have lost?
The need for approval or acceptance from anyone else.
And what have I gained?
Peace of mind.
So that’s how I start 2017….. peacefully. Renewed. Determined. Ready for the next chapter.