On the Ends of Years

(ENGLAND Brighton) Melancholy looking iron posts off Brighton Beach. (Photo taken by the author.)

The year is winding down to a close.

For the last three, maybe five years, I’ve experienced an unsettling, almost unpleasant, acceleration of time that gets particularly acute once November begins. The vertiginous bewilderment eventually gives way to moribund panic: What have I done with the year? Where did the time go? What monument have I built? Where is my life headed???

There was a time when I only had to audit my life once a year—and I was usually satisfied with the results. Then, with the smugness of an accountant who’d balanced her books, I’d count the tick marks on my various checklists, survey the entirety of my accomplishments (as determined by grades, awards or performance reviews), and pronounce it all good. Then I’d plan the year ahead (which somehow always suspiciously resembled the year just ended).

In more recent years, however, the auditing process has gotten a lot…fuzzier; the sense of accomplishment more so. A large part of the fuzziness has to do with the fact that most of what I’m doing now is difficult to break down into lists and challenging to evaluate on objective scales of assessment. I have no peers against which to be benchmarked; no superior to tell me that I’m actually doing well. All I have are the strident voices in my head, none of which are particularly compassionate.

Hence, the panic when the end of the year approaches, and the debilitating sense that another year has gone by and I don’t quite have anything to show for it.

Thank God I have family and friends who tell me otherwise.


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