And here we are, on the cusp of another year. The end, the beginning.
Who drew the line, who turned the page, who decided that we would have a chance to pause, take stock and cast our eye forward once more, with the hope of redemption?
Not that it matters. In this continuum we call life, the desire to punctuate is necessary for renewal.
And so I sit here, staring at my hands. Staring at the passing traffic. Staring at the flowers in my garden. Reflecting on a year that has turned out to be more than I ever imagined, or expected.
Hard work came to fruition when two books I wrote were published and launched. As it always is for me, the journey towards the words had given me the greatest pleasure, and seeing them in print was in a sense, an anticlimax. Those hours I spent tapping away at my computer, usually in the wee hours of the morning fed my soul in a way that nothing else could. This I understood in a profound way, and has again brought home to me the reason I am a writer.
This year, I spent more time away from home than I have for a long time. I travelled for work and saw life in remote places, bathing in rivers, partaking of food I would not imagine I could – snake, slugs, porcupine, seedless rambutan and durians from century-old trees. I walked beside nomadic people, spoke to shamans and shifting cultivators. Drifted down timeless rivers, marked by the large white trunks of the towering tapang trees.
It was a startling change. Just before, I was in England spending time with my family, my niece and nephew whose memories of the Lake District will be forever sealed with me. I walked and walked in London, seeking out museums and art galleries, between cups of English tea and sandwiches stuffed with salted beef, cheese and English mustard.
Towards year’s end, I had the pleasure of youth in my life. Not having had any children of my own, I was entrusted with two young people who were observing an internship period, a final nod to practical work experience at the end of their time in university.
Jian Zhen roomed at my home for three months during which time I was mostly away. Lee Ching was almost three weeks with me in Sarawak, of which two weeks was spent traipsing upriver and staying in longhouses.
Both taught me that despite the preoccupation with gadgets and the internet, old fashioned qualities were alive and kicking. Jian Zhen with his discipline and patience, Lee Ching with courage and toughness, despite her challenge with Tourette’s Syndrome. Both gave me an inkling of what kind of a mother I would have been, if I had been a mother.
When I consider last new year’s eve epistle and the sombre tone it held, I somehow expected life in 2011 to slow and dip a little. The pace to slacken slightly. Much to my delight, it hasn’t. And so in 2012, I expect more of the same. The lifting, the quickening of my heart at another sunrise, at the touch of another human experience. Here’s to the new year, and here’s to life…toujours!