Looking back on the past couple of years, it’s actually pretty easy to summarize. Only two events have Mattered, at least in the self-centered sense of affecting my life.
That’s not to say that they’ve been bad years (they have been, although that’s the result of previous things and the still-slow recovery from them), or unimportant ones (it’s too early to say, but I’m hoping they are the direct foundation for big things coming up.) Just that everything that matters that’s new can be traced to two things.
The first, from 2010, is when I started volunteering at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. I’ve written about that before–probably too much–but with good reason: It was my entry into the museum world, and it gave me direction. If I weren’t a volunteer, I wouldn’t have known about the museum’s conservation programs for endangered butterfly species, and I certainly wouldn’t have realized how poorly publicized they are, and I wouldn’t have combined that knowledge with a few lamentations from other institutions about what a challenge it is for them to publicize their work, and I wouldn’t have realized that it would be something I’d be well suited to doing.
I’d known I was unhappy–a trio of major betrayals in 2009 had shattered any belief that I wanted to stay on my current path in any aspect of my life–but it wasn’t until then that I had any idea what path might be better.
This year’s big event was completely unrelated to careers, except that it’s not. I saw one of those workout-in-the-park boot camp things, and thought that might be a better option than going to the gym for the same 12 weight exercises and elliptical trainer. After way too much doubt, I signed up.
It is worthwhile to now note that I have been fat literally since the day I was born, and that while I’d had a gym membership all my adult life, I’d never gone regularly for more than a couple months at a time, and that (in large part related to the trio of betrayals) my weight had ballooned to lifetime highs.
The place I joined is working. It has an indoor location as well as boot camps in the park, but just about everything it offers is group classes. That was an approach I needed; I’ve been going very steadily for 7 months and lost upwards of 50 pounds.
There’s a big mental benefit too–beyond the good feeling of accomplishing something, which of course shouldn’t be discounted. It’s hard to put precisely what I mean; the best way I can say it is that, cumulatively, it takes the edge off of negative emotions. The anger and sadness and frustration and other problems are still there, and they’re just as intense as before, but they’re also a bit more distant.
Like I said, it’s hard to describe precisely. But, after a long period of sadness, even a small but noticible improvement is significant. It makes greater effort possible, which makes it possible to do better things, which improves your mood a bit again.
The end of the year is a good time to look forward as well as back. What will matter next year? Predicting is folly, but an irresistible one, so…
I don’t think that the important events will be so compressed next year. My attitude is shifting from job-hunter to job- and gig-hunter, so I’ll be seeking and hopefully finding a wider range of opportunities. As a natural consequence, no individual one should be of primal importance.
Who knows if that will come to pass. But for the first time in a few years, I’m looking forward to finding out.
Happy new year.