Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Looking Forward, Looking Back

One of my dirty little secrets is that I love Christmas, probably because it always seems to be a time for looking back and reflecting. (For someone who reflects far too much and is in danger of having a crooked neck for looking over her shoulder too much, this isn’t always a good thing.) Of course, this time for reflection on what is past comes immediately before New Years, which is the king of all dates for looking forward and being hopeful – something I don’t do well.

Christmas is the holiday of memory. We spend the holiday period comparing our wins and failures to what has come before, whether it’s the successes of our academic year, or, as in my beloved sister’s case, that she managed to knock over all her Christmas shopping in one afternoon and beat her personal best from last year. We reminisce about Christmases past with those we love, and every now and again we adjust as someone we love is taken from us and the world as we know it shifts. There are the holidays in which there are young children once again, only this time they belong to us rather than our parents. There are the Christmases we spend apart from those we love, and the Christmases we spend in solitude, or perhaps only with a significant other. We travel far, we stay close to home, but ultimately we compare one Christmas with all the others we remember. Some of us try to recapture a sense of child like joy, and others just drink to get through it. But I’m willing to bet that at some point during the lead up to the big day, if not the day itself, you find yourself comparing the holiday to one that has come before and working out what that means to you.

I spent most of my recent trip to Melbourne anxiously checking my phone for the e-mail telling me what my thesis mark was. It was in a smelly ladies’ toilet that it finally arrived on my final afternoon of the trip. One of my other dirty little secrets is that my Honours result ended up being a lot lower than it should have been. It’s a secret that’s hard for me to admit.

But during this time of reflection, I try and acknowledge that things could have been a lot worse. Despite my illness being a greedy bastard for 10 of the last 12 months, I managed to finish Honours. I did more than well enough for acceptance to the advanced Masters program I want to study next year (I’m still waiting on this news, one way or the other). I have sung in beautiful venues and heard my voice ring out. I spoke at an academic conference and evoked an enthusiastic question time. I travelled for pleasure and for business on my own and managed not to get lost more than half a dozen times. I turned 30 in a room filled with my closest friends, and was touched by the love and compassion they show me every day. I stood in rooms filled with people as amazing artists and bands played and made me feel alive.

I am still alive. As bad as it got (and it got very, very bad) I am still here and still trying. I still have plans to make and things to look forward to, and I want to stick around for those.

This is my 31st Christmas, and I’m kind of excited about it (although maybe that’s because I don’t have to cook….). I hope the same for you and those you love, and I thank you for continuing to read this little blog of mine. Frankie is written and dispensed with, but I’m going to be a student for some time yet and I hope you’ll stick with me for that. May your tomorrows be bright and sparkly, friends.