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Sunday, 1 January 2012

As The Sun Sets on 2011

On a late afternoon on New Year’s Eve I felt compelled to do something productive. This unfamiliar motivation was sparked by a whole week of being glued to the couch and wasting my life away, then finally convincing myself to try and end the year on a high note. So I got my ass up and jogged to the top of the stairs above the Calgary Curling Club and watched the sun set on 2011 with an amazing view of downtown Calgary.

It was a good time to be alone with my thoughts about another year gone by in Calgary. I’ve come a long way since arriving three years ago as a fresh young pup, alone and afraid. Every year keeps getting better, but I was somewhat conflicted about 2011.

2011 can be described by three themes:

Music is the first theme. I saw my first real concert (Gob during frosh week did not count), System of a Down, in April. Along with my 50 year old coworker/friend, we were a pair of excited misfits in a sea of leather-toting, Mohawk-wearing, tattoo-laden rockers.

I fell in love with Linkin Park’s latest album, A Thousand Suns, released in Sept 2010. I managed to go from hating it in the first month to it eventually becoming my favourite album. We have grown together as funky beat and listener and, to this day, I still listen to it more than any other music and played it during emotional times in my life. The music is moving and deep in meaning; it just takes time to get used to. It is epic!

My number one highlight without doubt was the Linkin Park concert in Taiwan in September. One lucky Couchsurfer got to accompany me to the concert and watch me jump and scream my face off among a sea of relatively lethargic Asians waving light-wands. Here I didn’t look as much as I acted like a misfit. Nevertheless, this was a concert I will never forget.

Oh, and Taiwan was really sweet too! Most rewarding was not the tasty food, cheap shopping, and beautiful sights (and girls), but the feeling that I could survive on my own in a completely foreign land with unfamiliar language and culture. Again, the word “misfit” is applicable in this context. Taiwan goes down as the first of hopefully many unorthodox travels.

The second theme is Nature. I became quite heavily involved with overnight hiking trips through being a member of the Alpine Club of Canada and gaining access to huts isolated in the majestic Rocky Mountains of Canada. My appreciation for glaciers, clouds, bears and everything in-between grew leaps and bounds!

The third and most obscure theme defining my year is personal sacrifice. I adopted the “do-gooder” mindset and began putting to action words that are often carelessly uttered. I recently completed, and barely survived, my 2 month no-driving challenge, which became really tough after one month. Also in 2011 I completed the Ride to Conquer Cancer, adopted earthworms, and purged useless stuff, among other notable things I could mention, but I don't want to bore you or sound arrogant (too late). I hate to show off, but this is what takes to inspire and to prove that yes, it can be done!

At times, these accomplishments came at a cost. My sustainable lifestyle became frustrating and burdening, not only to myself but also to others as I became more antisocial and was nearly labelled as "the annoying hippie." I nearly hit rock bottom, while questioning the point of doing all this when others were out enjoying their lives.

It took until New Year's Eve to pull myself out of this funk. But, as I watched the beautiful skyline of my adopted city of three years, I realized I am very proud of everything I have accomplished.

At the end of a wild and memorable year of economic and societal upheaval, overwhelmed by natural disasters, recessions, war and global suffering, I am also grateful for everything I have. But just because I am grateful doesn't mean I shouldn't accept what is given to me. In resolution, my goal for 2012 will be finding a better balance between enjoying life and living sustainably.

Listening to my favourite band, Linkin Park, and my favourite song, Iridescent, I found myself singing out loud while cautiously looking around and assuring myself no one was listening. It was a satisfying release of emotion and, at the same time, I felt myself acting out the cathartic lyrics of the song “Let it go.”

It was quite the way to end 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Andrew - Happy 2012 to you, Make sure you don't turn into an annoying hippie!!!