Passing through and getting on

This is just about my favourite time of the year, the break between Christmas and New Year. It’s an interlude in which you can legitimately relax. Christmas has passed, and the next year is yet to arrive, and you can laze about catching up on your reading, sleeping in, watching the cricket, firing up the barbie, and so on.

That’s what I’ve been doing this year, as I have most years. I’m doing less reading perhaps, because I have few books to read, but I’m doing much more writing – my literary mojo has returned. Each day dawns bright and sunny, the birds chirp, time ticks by slowly, and choices abound.

Mosy years I’ve experienced this coming off a long season of work. It’s the same for most people. The moment you walk out of the office on Christmas Eve you feel a sudden sense of freedom, like an open road before you. You enjoy the celebrations of the big day, a day you share with loved ones. But after that the time is all yours.

It’s been a while since I had that experience, simply because for the last few years leading into Christmas I’ve been out of work. That’s a hard trail, but even so this time of year brings some relief. Whereas guilt prevents you from using your free time for leisure mostly, come this time of year those shackles are released.

There’s not much you can do meaningfully in this time of year. No jobs are advertised, and half the workforce is on holiday anyway. It gives you permission to relax like you never do otherwise. To be yourself, and take some joy from life.

I always find it a time of gentle reflection also. Once upon a time as the new year approached I would take stock of the year past, and looking ahead would set myself vague goals to attain. I don’t do that anymore, if only because to look back is to see not much more than hardship and struggle.

I know it’s just about a conventional cliche to make new years resolutions. As so many rightly say, why does it take a change of year to propose changes to your life? I think most people are in a state of evolution all through the year. They make unfussed plans and set vague objectives, and consider the things they might improve upon. In a way the new year formalises that and gives the opportunity to put it in gilt lettering. And it’s a bit of fun.

I think it’s natural at this time of year to. In a way I think the true end of year is Christmas. It builds to that peak, then abruptly, and happily, falls away. It’s the culmination, the full stop, to a year of seasons. The period between Christmas and New Year is the breather. It’s not the end of the year, but the preamble to the new year. It’s a fuzzy space when reflection comes easily, and which the prospect of a new dawn makes for new expectations.

So it is for me. I won’t be making resolutions. I’m not really one for hard and fast bullet points to improve my life. Besides, I don’t smoke, and while I could be fitter, I’m pretty good.

It’s different for me. I’ve been through the wringer. I’d like to think that the worst of that is over, but I know there will be challenges and disappointments ahead. I’m conditioned to it, so it doesn’t impact me now as it would have once. I keep moving forward.

And in fact I do believe the worst is over. I am conditioned now that I’ve become very sturdy. I’ve had crisis of faith, and moments of depression, and likely I’ll have those again, but believe I’ve crested that peak and am on the slope leading away from it. Just keep doing it is my mantra.

It would be a different story if I had nothing to look forward to, but at least I have a job to go to soon. It’s modest and unchallenging, but it’s income and activity. An it’s a stepping stone. If I can survive then I can look to do more than that. If I can survive, I can thrive.

I feel as if the worst is over in the job market, though the economy is precarious. I think sometime in the next 12 months I’ll get back into that familiar seat and do what I do best – and begin earning again the money as I used to.

There is more than that though too. I need some warmth in my life. Some comfort, even love. I’ve abstained from it for so long. Now that I feel like there’s some hope I can start thinking about getting back to it. Besides the practicalities, a big part of my reluctance getting involved has been pride. I’m still proud, but I have to overcome it. I already know how to explain it: You know those stories of people who had it all, then lost it all? Well that’s me. It’s glib, but hey, I’m nothing if not that, and it’s the ice-breaker I need.

I’ve got a lot of years in front me. I’m still deadly smart. I’ve been battered, but I’m still pretty confident. And despite all, or maybe because of all, I still have the attitude.

For now the immediate challenge is to get by. I have $20 in my pocket to last to 5/1. Then on the 10th I have rent due. I’ll be about a thousand short. Not to mention car payment, electricity, gas and phone. And possibly food – I’ll need that. I start working on the 18th.

These are things, tough things, but transient things too. I’ll scramble, I’ll sacrifice, I’ll be short, I’ll make my apologies, and somehow I’ll make it. Shoot, maybe that’s my epitaph.

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