Welcome To 2006

Well here we are: 2006. I spent the first day of this new year having brunch with a friend, napping extensively, then watching the entire last season of Doctor Who (the one with Christopher Eccleston). Did you know that a spin-off will air this Spring? It’s called Torchwood and stars Tom Cruise lookalike John Barrowman as Captain Jack, the omnisexual rogue from the 51st century. Why do I mention this? Because I admire thorough and multilayered storytelling. “Torchwood” is an anagram for “Doctor Who”, and was the name the latter shows were labelled under in order to avoid video pirates. The term “torchwood” has been referenced at several innocuous moments during the Eccleston episodes (I know, I watched them all in one sitting!) suggesting that producer Russel Davies has everything well planned out. Gotta love it.

Okay, time for my personal reflection of 2005. Sure, some big global things happened: hurricanes and flooding in the USA, earthquakes in South Asia, terrorist blasts in England, Indonesia and elsewhere… the list goes on. But ultimately, we humans are selfish beings for whom world events are important insofar as they affect us personally. I am fortunate that none of the great world tragedies of 2005 has touched me or my family personally. Instead of dwelling on that point, I will simply list the things about 2005 for which I was genuinely grateful:

6. My sitar. As part of my self-imposed therapy after a hellacious 2004, I decided to seriously take up a musical instrument. I chose the sitar for a number of reasons: it’s a touchstone to my culture, it looks pretty damned cool (so if I ever get bored of it, at least it makes a good decoration), and it embodies a musical ethic quite separate from what we are used to in the West, hence I could begin fresh like a baby. For those of you who don’t have something creative in your lives, I implore you to seek out such a thing. It adds balance to your being and brings peace to your boiling blood.

5. Driving. See, I got a driver’s licence 22 years ago when I was 16, but never drove again. So in the summer of 2005, I decided to get behind the wheel again. I had to take classes again, because I’d forgotten how to drive! But now I’m obsessed with cars and with driving, having driven about 50 different cars in the past 6 months. It’s a good thing this interest has come to me late in life, otherwise I’d really be a lard-ass.

4. My job. Okay, for reasons I can’t get into here, I decided early in 2005 to give up my lucrative and enjoyable life as a self-employed consultant and accept a full-time position –with less pay!– with the Centre of Excellence for Child & Youth Mental Health. The position allowed me to acquire the status of Investigator with the Research Institute of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the rank of Assistant Professor (still hafta sign the papers, etc) with the Dept of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, of the University of Ottawa. It’s been nice being able exert my professional skills at full force, with substantial resources at my disposal. This year has been an important one in my career development.

3. Hindi. This really has been the year of new skill acquisition for me. I’ve only been doing it for a couple of months now, but the study of a foreign language has been advantageous for two reasons: it’s yet another touchstone to my distant culture and –this is important– it allows me to exercise a part of my brain that has otherwise been allowed to go lax. Studying a new language, especially in the one-on-one private tutor format I have chosen, is intellectually quite fatiguing. But, like any exercise, the pain makes you better, smarter.

2. The internet. Bear with me for a moment. This year saw the dramatic expansion of my e-relationships. Some of my closest new friends are people I’ve never actually met in real life. They are scattered across the globe: the USA, the other side of Canada, Australia, India, etc. Yet I have more regular contact with some of these folks than I do with my true best friends in Toronto and Ottawa. This is neither good nor bad, it just is. And I am grateful to the Internet for allowing this to be. Moreover, the readership of this blog, and its activity level, have increased this year. I am grateful for that –and for you– as well.

1. My family. Yes, this is shlocky. But it’s the truth. Judging solely by life tables, I am precisely at the middle of my life. And as everyone knows, it takes longer to go up a hill than to go down. So I am acutely aware that my time with my beloved family is limited, especially as my parents enter their extreme old age and the medical woes mount. We are quite sanguine about mortality; after all, the only true cause of death is life itself. But its realization does compel one to more value the living while they are alive. Hence I end my list with a tribute to my family, each of whom I love more than anything the Universe could possibly offer me.

And for you, my droogies, I leave you with this: a video showing what country average Americans would like to invade next. Expect more of the same from me in 2006!