As the year 2013 is coming to an end many of us are reviewing the year that was. The year in which seemingly more of the same bollocks happened. More personal achievements and non- achievements. More political bollocks, both on the domestic and international front, more terrorism, more art, more entertainment, more trends, more inspiration, more of life and more of death. The year 2013 could be seen as the year of mistrust. After the horse meat scandal, the revelations of the NSA surveillance programme and Lance Armstrong letting himself be Oprahfied one could ask to what extent we can actually trust our food chain supply, our governments and our sporting heroes. It could be seen as the year of terrorism with the-stranger-than-fiction murder of soldier Lee Rigby on the streets of South East London, the bombing at the Boston Marathon and the Kenyan shopping mall siege. The year that just was could be the year when the Arab Spring turned terribly sour with the disposal of the fairly elected now-former president Mursi and the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and an intensified civil conflict- turned proxy war in Syria infested with chemical weapons. The year that is about to end could be seen as the year in which great politicians and artists like Margaret Thatcher, Hugo Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Doris Lessing, Peter O’ Toole and Lou Reed passed on to different realms.
But in life we are bound to get disappointed and as Chuck D wisely said; don’t believe the hype. Since the beginning of humankind our species has attempted to achieve one’s objectives through violent means. And that beautiful region called the Middle East has been volatile for decades if not centuries and maybe that is just how postcolonialism can rear its ugly head. Some true and controversial greats might have died in the year 2013, yet lesser and greater mortals die every day.
Besides more of the same thing, the year that is about to end was a good one for me. In the first half I was mainly frustrated and cold as my working life was not rocking my world and winter lasted well into May. I behaved like a recalcitrant teenager doing what I wanted – mainly faffing about and getting intoxicated to stem the frustration- rather than doing what I needed to do to solve the issues causing the discontent. Then things changed. An opportunity arose to engage my language geekiness in sunny setting which I grabbed with both hands and feet and by means of send-off I enjoyed a glorious summer.
As I am about to hit my Big Four O, I feel life is full of opportunities which feels jolly good and I am asking myself; what do I want to take from the year 2013 besides fabulous new opportunities and a glorious summer? Perhaps some inspiration from one of the great anti-apartheid heroes, the Great Unifier, who has just peacefully passed on. How one can be incarcerated for almost three decades, called a terrorist by several ‘respectable’ members of the international community, only to become the father of the Rainbow Nation, saving it from civil conflict and being respected and adored by the whole world. How one man made many of the post-apartheid generation of all shades and creeds proud South Africans, despite all the problems the country faces. How that man brought the once pariah state back into the international community. Growing up in 1980s staunchly anti-apartheid Netherlands, Mandela was a hero and a martyr and his release on that Sunday in February 1990 will probably remain one of my greatest television moments. And after all he had suffered there was not a trace of bitterness. And all, including those who supported or condoned the apartheid regime, wanted a piece of him.
It’s not that I wish to suffer for decades only to achieve my life’s goals in the autumn of my life, but I would love to have that same resilience, patience and dignity. Surely Nelson Mandela was no saint. I’m sure by dedicating himself to the cause he failed his family greatly and maybe he didn’t do all he could for millions of South Africans living in poverty. Yet, he was a great light and however dark the days that light will shine on into 2014 and far beyond.
I wish you great light, joy, inspiration, health, success and fun for the New Year.
Happy 2014 to you all.
top images: foodmag.com.au and takedesign.com