There’s something about the passing of each year – a flurry of resolutions wrapped up in a feast of holidays and familiar faces – that makes me feel contemplative in January. This month feels like the right one to remember everything the past year brought and everything we hope this year will bring. To pause and savor the promise of a string of twelve months laid out ahead, a perfect blank slate ready to be written upon. It only lasts a moment, but I relish it: hovering in the transition period as long as possible, not yet betrayed by ambitions or the passage of time, and still clutching in my hand the dreams I’d like to let loose on the world.
Or, as W.S. Merwin puts it, in this poem “To the New Year”:
so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible
In this spirit, I interrupt this site’s regular programming to bring you a few thoughts on project one thousand’s 2016 and a glimpse of what’s ahead in 2017.
2016: Taking risks
2016 was a crazy year, for many reasons (both personal and global). Having been a fairly risk-averse person for much of my life, I decided 2016 was the year I’d run toward the things that scare me instead of cowering from them.
While this may not be the most sustainable life philosophy, a year of it has brought me a newfound appreciation for spontaneity and life’s simple pleasures, a diminished emphasis on socially-prescribed notions of success, and – most of all – several leaps closer to my own amorphous, constantly evolving idea of happiness.
Where else did this year bring me?
Early in the year, we watched the Northern Lights illuminate the Norwegian winter skies. In the beginning of spring, I quit my job with no clear idea of what would follow beyond “travel.” Daniel and I packed up our home in London, shipped all of our stuff back to the U.S., and took off ourselves in the opposite direction with only backpacks between us.
By mid-year, we’d visited Morocco for the second time, crossed Europe, passed into the Balkans, sailed across the Adriatic to Italy, walked across Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s Floating Piers, witnessed the Siena Palio, and driven completely around Iceland’s Ring Road.
After a brief sojourn in the U.S., we set off again in the opposite direction, marveling at the cityscapes of Hong Kong, visiting family and iconic landmarks in India, and, after quite a bit of visa anxiety, experiencing the many incredible sites of Iran.
The fall found us back again in the U.S., with brief explorations around the Midwest. I mailed an absentee ballot from Portugal, and we watched the election results in Colombia. I sampled port wine at its source and visited the birthplace of Portugal. I finally made it to South America for the first time. We learned first-hand about coffee production and urban transformations in Colombia and stood in awe before many sites in Peru we’d previously seen only in textbooks. Just before returning to the U.S. for the holidays, we crowned the year in the clouds above Machu Picchu.
2017: Finding equilibrium
With all the incredible experiences of 2016, what does 2017 hold? A year of searching for balance, of relinquishing backpacks, of trying to set up a home base from which to continue exploring the world. I don’t think we’ll ever stand still, but I would like to take a break from running.
Where will this year bring me?
We have no travel plans lined up for this year as of yet, but as even the most casual reader of this blog will notice, I was quite terrible in 2016 at regularly posting in this space. Nearly none of what I’ve outlined above has yet made it onto project one thousand.
As I say every January, this year will be different, and this time I mean it. From today forward, I will be posting several times weekly, covering all of 2016’s adventures, and eventually, all that 2017 holds.
I hope to see you back here soon; until then, and after, I wish for you a year of infinite possibility.
Photo: Shiraz, Iran / September 2016
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