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Reflections on 2007

As the year slowly draws to a close, I find myself in the mood for a little more navel-gazing. Today, I skimmed the posts I made during 2007 and made some notes on the trends I noticed, and I’d like to do a “state of the me” by summarising them and seeing what I can learn.

I’ll start the trend that was probably the most obvious to the most people: Transformers Mania. A good half of this year was spent in anticipation of the release of this film, and while it was good fun, I think I cost myself the opportunity to enjoy a good few other things in my life by spending time on the Intarwebs looking for pictures and nuggets of news. I knew I was probably spoiling the movie for myself, but I just – I dunno. It just felt good somehow. Now, I don’t think there’ll be a next time; I’m not hunting down rumours about Iron Man (or even the TF sequel) like I did with Transformers. But if it does happen, I’ll recognise it, take a deep breath and recognise the plenty around me.

The other side of mania is, of course, depression. It’s something I’ve struggled with a good chunk of my life, especially in high school, but I’ve never really thought of what I was going through as “the D word”. Giving it a name gives me a bit more power over it, makes it feel like something transitory, but I’m still not wholly self-confident yet. Vickie said it best recently; I’ll do anything for a quiet life, even take the blame for something that’s not really my fault. The solution is obvious – be comfortable with an unquiet life. Roll with the punches instead of flinching. But like any solution, it’s hard work to achieve, especially when I’ve spent most of my life flinching or ducking for cover.

I’ve noticed that the item that usually drives my bouts of depression is our money situation. The thing is, our money situation is a lot better than I used to think. Hell, my home loan debt is at most a third of almost everyone else in my general age group, and while I mightn’t be on great money now, that doesn’t mean I won’t be earning a lot better in the future. That’s something I intend to work on this year, but it’s still good to know that we really do have a stable base.

Socially, 2007 started off promisingly with the gamer get-togethers and meeting local lad David on the bus. Unfortunately, the get-togethers petered off fairly quickly and we’ve not done a great job of keeping in touch with David. We lost one set of neighbours when one of the couple behind us passed away and his wife sold the house, and we were soured on the folks who moved in after the incident with Ziggy. People have also been in and out of the house on the highway side of ours. My wonderful love Vickie has also had a hard time getting out of the house, between illness and the loss of her smile. Thankfully she’s been feeling a bit better lately, and some recent dental work has given her back her smile; tonight we’re heading out to the farewell party of a friend of ours who’s heading overseas. So next year, I’ll see if I can do a bit better job of keeping in touch with our local friends (and hope, in some cases, that they follow the example).

I was hoping my purchase of an Xbox 360 in April would help me get together over the web with some fellow local gamers, not to mention some of my friends from back down south. Unfortunately, organisation, or the lack thereof, was our undoing. Even when all our consoles were working properly, the four-man team we came to call King Podge and the Commodores of Love was only ever online at the same time once. Most of the people on my Xbox Live Friends list I’ve never actually met.

That hasn’t stopped me from playing more Halo 3 than is probably good for me. My streaks were broken when I had to send my 360 to Sydney for repairs twice, and Vickie told me that her heart sank when it arrived back again last Friday. She commented in October that I live between games a lot, marking time until I next sit down either in front of the TV with a controller in my hands or at a gaming table for an RPG session. It’s troubling that a month and a half after pointing it out, Vickie still feels like she’s losing her husband to the console, such that she’s glad when it breaks down.

It’s not been all obsession with SF and games this year, thankfully. Vickie and I both got involved with the Cairns Youth Mentoring Scheme, and I was partnered with a boy named Alex. We had a good time going bowling, fishing and laser tagging, and although Alex left one month shy of completing our six months when his circumstances changed, I’m still with the program and have just recently been matched with Josh, whom I’m going bowling with just over a week. I’ve also joined the local branch of the Lions Club, which has been good – I’ve helped out on their food fan on more than a few occasions – but I’m the youngest there, and that, coupled with being an out-of-towner, means I don’t have a great deal in common with the other members, largely long-time residents.

I’ve also got a bit more involved in the house. The bulk of the renovation work was done in 2006, but we’ve been making gradual process on the remaining areas of the house. The garden has spring to prominence; we’ve converted several sections into vegetable and herb beds, and most of our vegetable needs are now supplied out of our own garden. I’ve helped heft sleepers, put up fences, turn soil, plant herbs and vegetables, which is more than I’ve, well, ever done before. It’s almost a shame that I have to remind myself that I actually like to garden in order to get myself away from the computer or console.

Hmm. I’m reading this post back and realising there’s a lot of negative in it. I beg your indulgence while I comb out the positives in there and go hunting for some more.

  • For starters, I’ve got Vickie, who gives me love and support through my bouts of gamerism and depression in the trust that I’ll find my way back to stability.
  • I am feeling a lot more sane and stable than before; not only with Vickie’s help, but also through actively seeking out ways to build mental peace. I’ve been pulling things together from all over the place, from a collection of quotes from the Dalai Lama (a present from Vickie before we left Sydney), some self-help books recommended by a psychologist back in the nineties, the self-help book du jour called The Secret and some podcasts and CDs on meditation. The trick is to practice consistently, something I’ve only done thus far in relation to Halo 3.
  • I have a great family.
  • I’ve kept our home computers running (largely) smoothly over the last year, and even got the wireless network working at our place after five years.
  • I became game master of a regular role-playing game group for the first time since leaving Sydney, and am much less panic-stricken about planning and GMing sessions than I used to be – I’m actually loosening up enough to have fun!
  • I’m financially stable.
  • I’ve got a great house with a huge yard filled with growing things, especially the fruit and veg.
  • I’ve got a great pair of dogs.
  • I’m active in my community.
  • And you know what? I'm pretty good at Halo 3. Plus, the both of us owning an Xbox 360 has given my stepson Karl and I plenty to talk about - in fact, I've told him to bring his (and a spare TV) over on Boxing Day and we're going to see if we can get some System Link action in!

Plenty of reasons to be cheerful!

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