I’ve landed back in the Netherlands, and am now gliding due south across the snow-covered plain towards Eindhoven. New Year’s Eve, 2010. The flight was uneventful: I did some work and chatted occasionally with the woman in the next seat: Stacey Cook an Olympic skier competing in Alpine events in Austria this winter. It’s always fun to run into someone both noteworthy and accomplished, and to get a glimpse into the routine behind the breathless moments of racing that flash by every few years.
The US trip was a welcome chance to re-connect and a good break from the bustle of expat-company-building. I thoroughly stepped back from the business- and home- routines that consume life ‘26/8’ here, slowing the pace and taking time to enjoy family, friends, and traditions. It’s nice to pick up familiar threads of activity and culture, each still vibrating with their long-practiced melodies. It does bring home the fragmentation of living expat life in three places: How many half-lives do I accumulate while trying to make a whole?
I left the movies off as Delta 232 traversed the Great Circle over the darkness of the High Arctic darkness. It was a good chance to reflect on the year past and coming: my ABC’s (Ambitions, Balance, Connections), the corresponding negatives (Nagging Doubts, Bad Habits, and Naysayers), and aspirations to brighten the New Year (reading, travel, or painting).
And are these the right north stars to be following? This is traditionally the time of year when I would sit with a supervisor at work and discuss the the good, the bad, the opportunities, and the pitfalls of the coming year. Without the yearly grind of a performance review there isn’t a mandate to take stock nor the insight of an independent reviewer.
I suspect that my energy and industry would still be praised, but that I need to work on delivering better completion of fewer goals. My connections likely feel neglected without timely and responsive conversation, plans need to be paired with execution. And my wide ranging geographic and community contacts need to start resonating as a network, not just frequent flier miles. Better work-life balance is clearly a priority, with less rushing about and sprawl of work activity, and more time spent on personal growth and close relationships.
This will all come. Meanwhile, there are many solid and tangible accomplishments to look back on for 2010; many wonderful times shared with valued people. But I know I can do better in many ways.
But, for tonight, it’s champagne, friends, fireworks, and good memories of the year gone by. ‘May you all have the same tonight.