If there is anything I have learned from my admittedly busy and eventful life this past year, it is that life does not operate according to the principles of quid pro quo. Kindness, honesty and loyalty are not always reciprocated, and wrongdoing often goes unpunished, but that's okay by me.
The Balinese, whose culture I admire so openly, believe in the balance and exquisite tension between good and evil, rather than the defeat of evil by good. Their philosophy and attitude to life is easier for me to come to terms with, than the idea that everything in the Universe works with mechanical precision and reciprocity and everyone lives happily ever after except the Wicked Witch who, with surprising poetic justice, gets baked in her own oven (Hurray for the Brothers Grimm!)
I celebrated the 31st anniversary of my birth a week ago by donating blood, skipping dinner, and working late all by myself until 2230h. I apologise. That is not entirely the truth. I worked until 2130h, and spent the final hour conducting quality control checks on parcels delivered to me, the beneficiaries of which are refugee children, urban disadvantaged households and street children who attend an intervention/outreach centre.
It is not as lighthearted a task as one would expect. For every 10 boxes filled with shiny toys, school supplies and cavity-causing confectionary, there would be at least one or two filled with stained, used toys and clothes and corporate door gifts like ugly name card holders and even uglier ashtrays. I felt much better after sending out an irate e-mail to chastise those who believed that foisting rubbish on needy children was a noble and generous thing to do.
There really isn't a point to this monologue here today.
I am not going to hold forth on any major issue affecting the world, or present a considered opinion, or talk about my recent activities. (The latter can be found in my 'Savoir Vivre In KL' blog, if anyone is interested).
What I do want to record for posterity is that my priorities have changed in the past 12 months. Each year, as December rumbles to an end, I would draft a list of approximately 50 impossible-sounding resolutions for the coming year.
"I will not fall sick and will not take a single day of medical leave all year", one such resolution stoutheartedly declares. I will spend so many hours volunteering for such-and-such a cause each week, spend this particular percentage of my salary on this particular worthy cause every month, and set this particular lofty KPI for myself within this impossible time limit.
But 2009 has been a year of change and evolution for me, and it has challenged my views about many things, not least myself.
And as I walk into my 32nd year of life, I have only one resolution: That I would fear nothing. I trust my resilience and spirit enough to know that I will bounce back from any setback, better and stronger than before. I know that I can ask for help when the need arises and there will always be friends whose love will see me through the darkest days. I know that no burden is too big for me to bear and no sacrifice is too great for me to make.
As I sit here watching the last rays of sun filter reluctantly into my workspace and the grey drizzle kiss the concrete outside, I know that I can take on whatever comes my way. I'm going to be alright.