That New Year wish from Neil Gaiman and the beginning of my year-end reflections

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

– Neil Gaiman, 2001

With the school term finished, Christmas festivities finally over and the sister back to work, I opened my eyes this morning to our first truly free day at home. We haven’t had one of these since school ended, and certainly not in those last hectic weeks as the term charged towards its welcome conclusion.

In typical fashion, knowing our holidays were truly upon us, the first thing I did last night was make a to-do list. Actually, “make” isn’t the right word. I’ve had three different lists going since November, so all I had to do was review and update them. And then I started reflecting on how 2018 really is over, as you do, which has put me in rather a contemplative mood all day, as it does.

I read an article this morning on “taking the guilt out of New Year’s resolutions and reflecting on the good stuff“, and the four of us did the questions together:

  • What am I grateful for this year?
  • What things have brought me the greatest pain this year?
  • What do I want more of in my life next year?

Except we were dealing with an 8yo and 13yo so we rephrased question 2 to “what made you sad” — answers: nothing and Japanese (the subject, not the people), respectively.

All of this to say we’re finally settling into the holidays and I’ve begun to put words to my annual year-end reflections and think about 2019. In the coming weeks, we hope to spend time reading, reflecting and preparing for what will surely be a very big year. Hence the Nail Gaiman quote above — while probably not the specific wish I’ll be carrying with me into the New Year, it is always a wonderful starting point.

A different way of trying

However, one of the great things about building a movement that tells people we are committed to loving first is that every time I step onstage, I blackmail myself. I publicly declare myself to be someone I’m not, in hopes of forcing the true me (the cowardly recluse) to act in a way that is consistent with the image I keep painting of the man I aspire to be.

– Jeremy Courtney, Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time

Some people might call this hypocrisy but there is truth and courage in what Jeremy Courtney says. By putting himself out there, he is giving himself no choice but to follow through on what he has declared. Does it matter if, in our heart of hearts, we are not yet quite where we want to be, as long as we are willing to keep on trying at any cost? Or to put it another way, maybe sometimes we just need to fake it ’til we make it.

Benjamin Zander: The Transformative Power of Classical Music

As someone who loves orchestras and playing music, albeit not super well, this is eye-opening, beautiful and moving. I don’t consider myself a huge classical music fan, which in some way demonstrates how powerful this is. Alongside the fact that it has completely changed the way I understand and view classical music, I love the passion behind this, and the belief that it can be for everyone.

Revisiting ‘I Was Me’, Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons released ‘I Was Me’ in 2015 for the One4 project, with all proceeds going to the UN Refugee Agency. Lead singer of Imagine Dragons, Dan Reynolds, also wrote an op-ed for Medium about his experience visiting a refugee camp in Germany. This song came out of that trip. I bought the single when it came out, but hadn’t listened to it in a couple of years. Today it came up randomly on my playlist while I was out on a walk, and I promise you the song just broke my heart.

See also: Welcome to the New World, in the New York Times.