Near Yellow Mountain

Monday, January 2, 2012

Old Thoughts on a New Year

Each country I have lived in or visited seems to take the "New Year" seriously - at least for the first few days of the 12 month cycle. We may not all celebrate the New Year at the same time (for example, Chinese New Year) but the desire to have a fresh start, to conquer bad habits or to work harder seems universal. Whether we watch a ball drop in a city center and proclaim this New Year will be the "best ever", visit a shrine and write down our wishes or shoot off fireworks all night, the first day of the year brings a sense of expectation.

Thirty years ago, as 1982 dawned, I wrote down several goals. One was to run a marathon (which I did - actually I ran 4 in the last 7 months of the year). Another was to start writing a book - even then I was hedging since I wrote down "start" which implied I would not finish in 1982. I neither finished nor started a book that year nor in any subsequent year. As my life got busier, I even stopped having a list of goals most years. One exception was 3 years ago when I decided to lose some weight and by June was down to a couple kilos less than my high school graduation weight. To state the obvious point - goals are powerful things.

Twenty years ago, I never expected to be climbing Mt Fuji

As I sit in my home office on the morning of the 2nd day of 2012, I have already heard from my elder daughter, who graduated from University in May. She sent a text stating her flight to NYC landed on time (7:25am) so she can get her laundry done from the holidays before going back to work tomorrow. She decided to move to NYC after graduation to pursue her dreams despite a lousy job market and no job offer in hand. The job came shortly after she decided to act. The child teaches the parent.

My younger daughter is sleeping upstairs and will fly back to LA, where she goes to University, this afternoon. She is where she is because she dares to dream.

My younger daughter - perhaps pondering her future in the Japanese Alps
 I spend a lot of time thinking about the goals of my children and how their life choices have been shaped by living overseas. My wife and I were adults when we moved to Asia 12 years ago but our girls were young and lived 8 and 11 years in Asia, respectively. Their goals and dreams are much bigger than mine when I was their age. Part of that difference is changes in the world and technology which makes the globe a more open place but a large part is having lived in two Asia culture during their formative years.

Since we left Asia 13 months ago, I have been back 9 times and will spend a good part of January in Asia and then South America. Keeping a foot in my "Asian world" helped me adjust to being back in the US but as I reflect on 2011, I realize it is time to reflect on my goals from the 30 years ago. It is time for new dreams without forgetting the old ones. I may start that long overdue book in 2012 - I also might finish it. One thing that the last 30 years has shown me is the simple concept that we can only finish the things we actually begin. Dreaming is good, doing is better but the critical thing is deciding to act.

In the past 12 years, I have spent the New Year holiday in Japan, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, China and the US but for all those New Years, I knew I was going to continue on the path I was on as far as living and working. This year it is time to make a change. I realize I am still young enough to do something new and I have a supportive wife and family. It is time to write "the book" - at least metaphorically speaking.

New Year indeed.