When I first drafted this post I wrote about various serious matters: the past year's professional accomplishments, the magazines I'd written for, about working as a cycle courier, and how I'd managed to budget and cut back. But the thing I've come to value over the past year is the extent to which I learned to relax.
This wasn't strictly by choice. At the beginning of 2019 I committed myself to going further: to catching up, to developing my work, to updating this website. I always knew that I ought to take some time out, and I made tentative plans as to what I could fall back on to when I would. But first, I would get things done.
A third of the year passed by, then a day after a major deadline my venerable laptop broke, suddenly and irreparably—the decision was made for me.
Instead, I used my time to feed the book habit I'd picked up the previous year. Of all, Pond, Animalia, and Red Tory were amongst the best I read. I cleared the concrete garden at the back of our small terrace. I planted tomatoes in pots against the brick wall and surrounded them with herbs and lavender. I went swimming at the pool twice a week, and in the sea as frequently as possible. I took some country walks and a few early morning runs. In the summer, as in 2017, I spent a day cycling 90km across northern France.
And yet, despite my best efforts, the past year seems like a blur. Sitting here and writing this, I stop and try and wake myself, it feels like 2018 was only yesterday. I know that time is relative and time is psychological, they say that time passes quicker with age, and time flies et cetera, but I would have liked to have felt things move just a little slower.
The strange thing is that I know that I didn't do anything wrong. Despite the idea promoted by the 'wellness' industry, relaxation is not a case of 'one weird trick', it cannot be quantified and I doubt whether it can be communicated. All I can say is that this year I won't set myself anything except to enjoy the time I have.