Same Shit, Different Year.

The man upstairs has a cruel sense of humour.  I woke up this weekend to the bluest skies I’ve seen in a month, and this as my break was coming to an end.  You know how I keep talking about the December sunshine?  Well it’s finally here and just in time for a long hard month, of January.  Ah well… better late than never, no?  No.  I want my December dammit, she sulks…  I am a complete child of the tropics, the few times I’ve ventured far enough to taste real winter have scarred me for life.  I don’t like cold, I resent having to wear 6 layers of clothing and I detest thermal underwear.  That said, I am finally convinced that harsh weather is key to development, I suspect if Kenya had more extreme weather, we’d be closer to the mythical first world status we pretend to aspire to.  Sub zero temperatures have a way of inspiring innovation, is all I’m saying, but that’s a serious discussion for another day.  Today we celebrate the sunshine and a brand new year, which then means I have to attempt to write something serious, if only to redeem myself after a month in the sewer, no?  Dammit! 

Problem is, every time I kept trying to write a post on the year past and all that jazz, I drew a blank, there is nothing for me to say, and I’ve finally figured out why.  I spent the whole year reflecting.  I don’t need to sit here and tell you what lessons I learnt, you were here with me, hopefully learning as well, or as is more likely laughing at me as I learned what I suspect is common knowledge.  As much as I would so love to write a pithy list on lessons and goals and such like uplifting bullshit, there’s none to be had, looking back will serve no purpose.  Better to look forward, no?  The beginning of a new year is the one time I allow myself to feel mildly optimistic, convinced that the change in date is a signal for the planets to align, everything will finally fall into place.  I hold on to this ridiculous dream despite previous years proving me completely wrong.  Never, ever, has the New Year brought me anything other than more of the same, and why should it?  Its just another day, not a magic spell.  Yet here I am, another year, another dream of better days ahead.  I figure, what’s life without a little blind hope, and mild delusion? 

And so we go to the soundtrack.  Every so often someone, Flani in this case, points me in the direction of new music, sending me down the path of discovery, and it’s absolutely brilliant.  A couple of months back he recommended Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Diamond in the back’, a song so laid back I picture myself cruising down a highway on a sunny day, top down, breeze in my hair, a shandi in one hand with the other resting lightly on the steering.  What?  No, I don’t have a convertible (car or other), and no, my hair cannot flutter in the wind (unless I’ve stuck on what used to be someone else’s hair), and no, I do not drink while driving.  But despite all that, the picture remains, it’s that kind of song, feel good and mellow.  And its seven minutes long.  This song has been sampled by so many rappers, you’ll definitely recognise the tune, but listen to the last four minutes and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the music, in truth the song is less R&B and more jazz funk.  If you happen to play it, apologies for the quality, my converter thingi is being a bitch so I had to put up a crap copy, if you feel greatly offended, send me a harsh email.  Or not.   

Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac,
Gangsta white walls, TV antennas in the back,
You may not have a car at all,
But remember brothers and sisters,
You can still stand tall,
Just be thankful for what you've got…

Do you do the resolution thing?  I do, or at least I used to.  I started writing down my resolutions in ’03, convinced that writing them would make them more real.  Yeah…no, not really.  Back then the resolutions were an elaborate list of do’s and don’ts; do lose x no kilos, don’t get drunk on K2 wine ever again (that stuff was so vile…what???  Pox on your houses for serving me that piss, bastards!  Lakini, it was cheap nicely…  I digress.), do get a better job, don’t get another langa boyfriend… the usual nonsense.  Then around ‘06 it finally hit me that the lists weren’t working (shock on me), and that I kept repeating the same shit, year in and year out.  That’s when I came up with the brilliant idea of themes, as in broader ideas, rather than specific goals.  Stop laughing, it made sense at the time.  By ’07 I’d resigned myself to my unresolved fate, finally realising that random notes made on Jan 2nd were not very helpful in the greater scheme of things.  That year I sat down and drew up plans, plans mind you, not wishy washy goals, I was serious, man!  I had short term plans, and mid term and long term plans, and this to compliment the resolutions.  I know, I’m obsessed with lists, I think I even have a list of my lists.  And I wonder why I’m single?  Moving on swiftly…  Planning was the most depressing thing I’d ever done, the process was so traumatic I had to repeat it a year later, because the first time round it was simply a bunch of unrealistic pipe dreams motivated by the fear of turning 30. 

The resolutions however were still going strong, up until 2010, that was the year I realised I could just roll over the previous year’s crap.  In ’11, I wrote an amendment to said biannual resolutions, resolving to keep rolling them over, because they were so good.  No really, they were, sample the intro from ’09:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”


“Its all about passion, everything else is secondary!”

“What doesn’t break you makes you stronger!”

Every year I stick in a phrase that I think best summarises my philosophy for the year ahead based on the year just ended.  It’s only now that I’ve realised exactly what that meant in terms of my approach to life in general and the respective challenges I faced each year.  These phrases were my guiding principles, still are.  As I’m sitting here trying to figure out what this year’s slogan is going to be I keep thinking it should be all of the above, I feel like I’ve come full circle. 

“You have to let go to grab on to something else.”

The last year was all about leaving, this year is about moving on.  Its time to go, question is where?

Profound, no?  No, more like cringe-inducing, I have a disturbing fondness for clichés, its a bit embarrassing how many I have stored in the dark recesses of my mind, but we’ll have that discussion another day.  Ignore the overly enthusiastic use of exclamation marks and focus on the thoughts.  At the start of 2009, I was struggling with a fledgling business, dealing with love gone wrong and contemplating a (possibly dramatic) change of address, everything was up in the air.  In as much as that is no longer the situation, thankfully, I keep going back to these thoughts in particular, because I’ve found that I’m at my clearest in times of adversity, probably because problems and hope go hand in hand.  Well, that and the fact that problems have a way of ridding you of unnecessary clutter in the form of useless hangers-on (read bastards looking to use and abuse you), expensive and/or destructive habits (like clubbing all week), illusions of grandeur and delusions of fame.  Hard times force you to be honest with yourself, and my hard times gave me the focus I needed to change what needed to be changed, and finally come to terms with what should never be changed.  I like going back to that time in my life, because it reminds me that the lows are just as useful as the highs, sometimes more so.  Plus I really like a good slogan…

Last year was a strange year for me, on the surface of things I achieved nothing overly dramatic, but I came out of 2012 feeling better than I have in a long time.  The year was hard, no doubt, but it was also the most satisfying creatively (I’m talking about my day job, not this here, umm, exercise in exorcism of demons…) that I’ve had in ages, I felt like bloody Midas, only without the gold in pocket.  I had unnecessary man drama, as always, but I also had pockets of man bliss, and from the unlikeliest of sources.  I ended a couple of toxic friendships, shaking off the purveyors of doom and gloom, but in the subsequent silence I found the space to hear myself.  That’s right, I can now hear my own voice in my head.  What?  Its a good thing, no?  Perhaps not, it could be confirmation of suspected insanity.  Hmmm

So now I’ve started thinking about what I want, what I really want, the big picture, not what I expect or what’s expected of me.  The question is, what is it I’m working for?  What’s the goal?  Right now it seems to be all about existing, but what is it I’m living for?  A successful career but for what?  A happy relationship with whom and to what end?  What exactly is it that will define fulfilment?

That was the note I added in ’11.  It’s the question I’ve been trying to answer for the last 2 years, and I suspect will keep trying to answer for the foreseeable future.  This of course means that you’re in for more of my endless probing this year, but on the up side it will be less frequent.  I think I need to keep it down to once a week if only to keep myself sane(r).  Don’t worry once a week doesn’t necessarily mean one a week, I hope…

But remember brothers and sisters,
You can still stand tall,
Just be thankful for what you've got,
Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac, 
Diamonds in the back, sunroof top, diggin' the scene with a gangsta lean…

Happy New Year, my lovelies, may this year be kinder to you than the last.