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Reflecting on 2010: Visiting a Past & Creating a Future
Review of the Year 2010
Member Name: Hishyeness
Review of the Year 2010
Advantages: Returning to Russia & Armenia. New job. New friends. Lots to celebrate.
Disadvantages: Losing an old friend.
"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past"
(Thomas Jefferson - Third President of the United States)
I am not generally the retrospective sort. I prefer to look forward, to the future, rather than to dwell in the past. That said, sometimes it's worth looking back to take a closer look at the road you have travelled, the footprints you have left behind, and the companions who have walked with you. The year 2010 was a full of incident - some good and some not so good, but each milestone has added another marker on this journey we call life, and they should be celebrated for that if nothing else.
"Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so"
(Douglas Adams - English Author & Dramatist)
I started the year without a job, a situation entirely of my own choosing. I was disenchanted with where my career was headed, and had lost interest in my job and the organisation I worked for. Rather than plod along until something better came along, I decided to resign, take a career break, and seriously consider what I wanted to do next. I wasn't quite sure when and how to pull the trigger, but the catalyst turned out to be the early birth of my first son (and second child) in September 2009. My employers were more than generous, paying me my six months notice instead of making me work it through, so I had the incredible experience of being able to be a constant during my son's first seven months. It's a joy and a privilege that not many fathers will ever be able to experience.
In early January, I was invited to an interview, which four months and nine further interviews later led to my current job. I work for an organisation that I can take pride in, a boss who looks out for me and respects my family life, and work that is genuinely interesting and challenging. The road to employment wasn't always smooth - I had moments of self-doubt, frustration and discouragement, but as a man of faith, I trusted that God and the talents and abilities he has blessed me with would pull me through.
"Whatever the eye sees, the heart won't forget"
(Traditional Armenian Proverb)
Fast forward to June, and the exciting prospect of visiting my ancestral homeland for the first time in 23 years. The trip would never have been made had my sister not decided to have her wedding there, so I was doubly blessed by seeing her married, being an active participant in a traditional Armenian wedding, and then spending five days afterwards exploring the homeland with my parents. What I saw and experienced has given me a deep and longing hunger for more. I have shared many of the stories, sights and wonders of that trip on this (and other sites) - and it is easily the most engaged and passionate writing have ever produced.
The short time I was there left an indelible impact on my heart, mind and soul, and I look forward to the opportunity to go back and finish the journey I started. It may take me a while to get back - life is like that sometimes - but I certainly hope its not another quarter century before my return. Having been rejuvenated and recharged by the visit, I returned home to my wife and children, and immediately knew from the beaming, glowing smile on my wife's face that we were expecting again. God had blessed us with a third pregnancy, another son as it turns out, and we are eagerly anticipating his arrival in late February.
"Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma"
(Winston Churchill - Politician & Statesman)
It never ceases to amaze me how life seems to repeat certain patterns. No sooner than I had returned from Armenia, than it became clear that work commitments would send me to Moscow in late October. I have been to Moscow once - for a manic twelve hours between flight connections - on my way to Armenia those 23 years ago. I was bemused by the coincidence, but very much looking forward to my Russian adventure. As with all business trips, finding time to enjoy the city you have been sent to can always be something of a challenge. However, I as lucky that I had friends working there, and that my last day was a Russian public holiday, allowing me to schedule a late flight and enjoy some of what the city had to offer. I was lucky to be able to stay at the iconic Leningradskaya Hotel - one of Stalin's so-called "Seven Sisters" and enjoyed every minute of the experience. However, the highlight of my trip came from an unlikely source.
I went to meet the law firm we use in Russia - a branch of a large American law firm that hires local, Russian lawyers. The partner who usually looks after our account was away on business, so he nominated a colleague to chair our meeting, and then take me to dinner along with two junior colleagues I was familiar with. I had never heard of this guy before, and was puzzled as to why someone who had never worked with us would be used as a substitute. The minute he walked through the doors of the meeting room (I should have been suspicious - it was named after Armenia's capital - Yerevan) I knew form his face and demeanour that he was an ethnic Armenian.
We hit it off immediately - common ground is easy to find when you're both standing on the same ground to start with - and during dinner that evening, he told me "tonight we meet as client and law firm - tomorrow let me take you out as an Armenian brother". He took me to a swish Armenian restaurant called Noah's Ark, and then drove me around Moscow afterwards (it scrubs up very nicely at night), before depositing me back at my hotel. We said our goodbyes, and as I turned to leave he said "You didn't think you'd be leaving Moscow without a gift did you?" before presenting me with a 20 year old bottle of Armenian Ararat brandy. Friends are found in the most unexpected places.
"Dogs have owners, cats have staff"
On a more personal note, this month I said goodbye to a dear and treasured friend - our family cat of seventeen years, who we sent to his rest a few days ago. He was called "Kinu" (a moment of hormone-induced madness by my sister, who didn't want to be too obvious by calling him "Keanu"!) and he was a member of the family from the day she brought him home - as a flea-infested kitten and the runt of the litter - to my top floor flat in Putney, presenting me with a fait accompli which I have never ever resented. We have had our share of deaths in the family this year, but for immediacy and emotional impact, it seems bizarre that the family cat sticks out much more vividly in my memory than any of them. I can see him now, chasing butterflies, going mad at light reflections and inquisitively cocking his head every time I unwrapped seafood stick.
Sometimes it's the little things...
"The first forty years of life give us the text; the next thirty supply the commentary on it."
(Arthur Schopenhauer - 19th century German Philosopher)
I can't let a year in review go by without mentioning that I turned forty this year - its meant to be a big milestone - the halfway point in your life, but for some reason, it passed my by a little bit. Maybe its because its not the numbers that define who you are, but how old you feel in your heart. I am incredibly blessed to have two (soon to be three) lovely children and a patient, understanding and beautiful wife who puts up with me and keeps me young (she's nine years my junior - wahey!). We celebrated our ninth anniversary this year, and to paraphrase an old Armenian proverb, often used as a toast at weddings "I look forward to growing old with you on the same pillow". So with that, I look forward to the new experiences and challenges that 2011 will bring. A that is left to say is a very Merry Christmas to all of you, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year full of plenty.
God bless you all.
© Hishyeness 2011
Summary: A very good vintage...