Hello dear readers, and allow me to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy new year!
Now, I know that these reflection-type posts should typically take place at the end of a given year rather than 4 days after the fact – but what can I say, deep within me resides a rebel who defies the rules and plays fast and loose with conventional norms. I kid, I am of course not a rebel by any stretch of the imagination, I have merely been engrossed with the typical hubbub of events and happenings that are ushered in with the end of every year.
For me December meant a whirlwind trip to London, wrapping up loose ends at work, welcoming back visiting friends who live abroad, a Christmas dinner or two to attend, coordinating plans to celebrate new year’s eve and eagerly anticipating my birthday (on that note – thank you to everyone who wished me well!), among other things. Needless to say, I definitely felt like I hadn’t had the time to sit and reflect on the year that was 2014, nor look ahead to 2015. In fact, when I posed the mandatory “what are everyone’s resolutions?” question to my friends (much to some dismay) during my birthday dinner, I was one of the few without any conclusive answers.
So that’s what this post is about – I apologize in advance for there will be no recipes or vegan tips and tricks (though I do promise that there are a few of those in the pipeline).
I know I said this to 2013, 2012, and possibly even 2011 – but you sure were in a hurry to leave us weren’t you! I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to bid you a proper farewell before you were out the door – but hopefully you’ll read this regardless.
Needless to say, you’ve been quite eventful. You took me to all corners of the world, satisfying one of my many ambitious resolutions from the year prior, to travel more. I waded through rice fields, surfed the waves, and ate my way through the fantastic vegan restaurants of Bali, Indonesia. I trawled the streets of Istanbul, found a slice of nirvana in Fethiye, and basked on the beach in Bodrum, Turkey. I reckoned with identity crises in my beautiful home country of Egypt, visiting the Red Sea and my beloved Alexandria along the way. And finally I ventured back to my old stomping ground, resisting the chilly winter and walking the streets of one of my favourite cities in the world – London. For this I am truly grateful – each trip brought with it priceless memories and experiences that have profoundly impacted me, each in their own way.
A friend of mine recently expressed an admittedly less than optimistic sentiment, that there is so much ugliness in the world, and that modern-day life is more difficult than it has ever been. While I can’t help but agree in part, I also have to disagree. There is so much beauty in the world – there is so much to see, to hear, to taste, to feel. It’s easy to lose sight of this living in a bubble like Bahrain, or for that matter any monotonous environment.
You’ve played with my emotions, 2014. There have been more ups and downs than I was even able to keep track of. You pushed me to the limit – showing me new heights to both sadness and grief ,as well as happiness and joy alike. You took loved ones away from me, something you know I’m not great with handling – but I don’t doubt it was their time. You split the path between old friends and I, despite my clinging, clawing and resistance – but I suppose it was also time for that too. You also brought me new friends, and they are some of the most thoughtful, loving and caring people I have ever met. Most recently, you reminded me that when it comes to friendships – old is gold. I am overcome with love and appreciation for the close friends I have known for over 5, 10 and even 15 years – even if we only spend but a few hours a year together.
You put me to the test with difficult decisions, both in my personal life and in my career. I like to think I’ve risen to the occasion in that regard – I’ve even found myself thinking “I’m getting pretty adept at this pretending to be an adult” thing. You taught me some tough lessons about responsibility – ones that I had to learn the hard way. Rest assured, those are nailed in there for eternity – though I’m sure your siblings 2016, 2017, and 2018 will have plenty more to shoot my way.
You’ve nudged me forward in times of self-doubt, and told me not to make any apologies for the way I chose to live. You’ve given me confidence and reassurance that my decision to live a vegan lifestyle is one that I wholeheartedly believe in, from the bottom of my heart, and that no amount of petty commentary from family, silly jokes from co-workers and friends or mindless comments from acquaintances can change. You’ve given me the motivation to keep writing this blog, no matter how busy modern life renders me – you’ve reminded me of the reason I started writing it in the first place.
But above all, if you’ve taught me anything, 2014, it’s that it’s okay to just be. It’s okay to feel like you can’t control everything, and that no, everything will not in fact fall apart because of that. I’ve started to learn to accept everything that life brings, come what may. I’ve learned to identify key, unique life experiences and moments when they appear before me, and to enjoy them too. I’ve learned not to get caught up in the details and the necessity for everything to be picture perfect that I let moments like this pass me by.
So what about your older and wiser sibling 2015? What can I expect from this sweeping year ahead? As we both know, only time will tell – but in the mean time I’ll share with you what I hope to get out of the next 361 days.
I want to be more compassionate – my compassion and love for animals is ever apparent as reflected by my diet and lifestyle choices – but what about compassion towards my fellow human beings? What about compassion towards myself? I know I’m much harder on myself than I need to be, and that I also judge and criticize others (even if not aloud) far more than I should. I’d like to change that, and am consciously considering how I can be compassion in the aspects of my life that fall outside of my dinner plate.
I want to learn more – I swore off returning to higher education after completing my bachelors’ degree three years ago – but my thirst for knowledge craving for mental stimulation is still alive and well. I want to learn a new language, read more books and journals, listen to podcasts and maybe even audiobooks (which I have always had a severe aversion to). More documentaries too – let’s face it, most of what’s on TV is trash nowadays anyways.
I want to try new things. 3 years of being back in Bahrain means I’ve fallen into a routine with most of my daily life – and I’d like to change that, as I would if I were first moving to any new place. Try out new sports, join different groups, explore new-to-me areas. I’m making a vow to try 6-12 new things by the end of the year, and they can be anything.
2014 – thank you for all that you brought and took with you. You will forever be etched in my memory as one of the most influential and important years of my young life. I’m sad to see you go – but also excited for what the future holds.