Looking forward to 2009

For some people, 2008 was the Year of the Crunch. The year that Lehmans finally fell, the year that fresh MBAs suddenly stopped wanting to work for investment banks. The year that stock markets crashed worldwide, property prices slid alarmingly and jobs disappeared.

For some people, 2008 was the Year of the Change. The year that hope returned to many people as Barack Obama was elected President of the United States of America. An amazing story when you think it is only 40 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

When you leave aside the markets and the elections, the storylines get thinner. The Mumbai attacks, the Beijing Olympics and the Large Hadron Collider are the principal ones that come to mind; events in Zimbabwe continue to concern and frustrate me, and the situation in Cuba only serves to mystify.

As was the case in Mumbai, 2008 was a time of sadness for many, as people lost their loved ones in wars and accidents and natural disasters. My condolences to all who have suffered loss. The world also said goodbye to some people known by all and sundry: Bobby Fischer, Paul Newman, Edmund Hillary, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Mark Felt (Deep Throat during Watergate) are those I particularly remember;  I also thought it was remarkable that Albert Hoffman, the man who discovered LSD, and Mahesh Yogi, the Maharishi who gave us Transcendental Meditation, managed to outlast their Sixties contemporaries so well.

For a small group of people, 2008 was the Year of the Shoe.

All in all, we’ve had better years, haven’t we?

But I’m not complaining. I have nothing to complain about. I have a great wife and great children, I enjoy my job, I’m part of a healthy and active and growing church, I feel part of my community. We have a warm house, the views are beautiful, there’s food in the fridge. A grand piano, a bunch of guitars, a flute. Two cats and a kitten. Books and music aplenty.

I am content and happy. Two years ago this Christmas, I’d just gone into ventricular fibrillation, my life expectancy was being measured in minutes, my “ejection fraction” was nearly at single figures. Now my medical insurers refuse to pay cardiologist visit bills on the basis I don’t need such services. I am content, happy and glad to be alive.

That’s what I wish for all of you, for 2009. Contentment. Happiness. Gladness in being alive. And this photograph, my all-time favourite, is to help you remember what’s important. A boy sitting on the steps of an orphanage holding on to his first pair of shoes. I know I’ve written about this photograph before, but I have no qualms in referring to it again. None whatsoever. [Update: Over the years I’ve discovered the name of the orphanage and, more recently, even the child’s name. Such is the power of the web.]

To all of you. 2009. May it bring you contentment. Happiness. Gladness in being alive.

19 thoughts on “Looking forward to 2009”

  1. It is ironic that we have only connected today – the last day of 2008.

    I think it says alot.

    The picture does too.

    Happy new year JP….we have much tremendous work ahead…

  2. In a small way you’ve been a constant in my life in 2008 thanks to Twitter and without sounding too sucky uppy it’s been great and my life has been that little bit richer as you shared and interacted on that wonderful social space. Looking forward to 2009!

  3. A very nice post to read as we leave 2008, thank you!

    And I agree fully on all points and I am indeed looking forward to 2009 with great anticipation.

    I wish you, your family and all your readers a very Happy New Year!

  4. thanks for all your comments. I am encouraged.

    we need to encourage each other, by sharing the good things with the bad, by building people up not cutting them down.

    you know something, it’s up to us to make sure the net is not a dark place, where it’s okay to be polite, to say thanks, to laugh and to cry.

    it’s up to us to make sure that the net is not just about testosterone and alpha types and swagger and scream.

    it’s up to us to do all this in the open.

    it’s up to us to discourage anonymity and flaming and needless criticism and cynical attitudes.

    we can have humour and irony and sarcasm without making the world a darker place.

    it’s up to us.

  5. Thank you, a great summary of the year and a thought-provoking post. I have also only recently come across you thanks to a link on Twitter and have since enjoyed reading your blog posts and Tweets.

    Happy new year to you and your family.

  6. A good photo and a good message to wind up 2008. I started using social networking in full swing in 2008, thanks to you. It has been great following you on twitter and reading your posts. Have a wonderful year ahead.

  7. JP,

    Lovely post.
    So much of Pollyanna in it. Much needed at a time when ‘sentiment’ is a deciding factor in so many things that affect the world at large.

  8. He JP – as usual – a great blog & a superb, simple and succinct message. May the force be with you bro. and wishing you and yours a peaceful & prosperous 2009. Needless to say if you ever swing by Sing, it would be a pleasure to have a few cold ones after all these years. Keep shining.

  9. JP, thank you for this blog and happy 2009!
    I am listening to David Crosby’s magnificent “If I could only remember my name” and I was dreaming about collaboration in San Francisco in the sixties (as the Dead and Graham Nach and the Airplane participated to the recording), which triggered this quick comment.

  10. Pollyanna-ish? Not really. Realistic assessment from a believer who knows that there are worse things than a credit crunch. Mind you, having been told that my civil service pension is to be reduced because of a mistake made by the government is not good. Can I change it? No. Why worry?

  11. benoit, hazel, roopinder, damien, darragh, jay, thanks for stopping by. glad you liked the post.

    @benoit as you know, I believe that everything I learnt about opensource I learnt via Jerry Garcia et al!

    @hazel it may amuse you to know that I know anant very very well. he’s my brother, and I understood what he meant by pollyanna, it wasn’t a criticism.

    @damien thanks for picking up on the comment, sometimes I’m not sure how many people read comments in detail. I think @darragh picked up on your comment

    @jay given your last post, I’m reminded of one of my favourite Ogden Nash poems, Song of the Open Road …. I think that I shall never see/ A billboard lovely as a tree/Perhaps unless the billboards fall/ I’ll never see a tree at all

  12. I happened upon your blog. You have given some good advice. Let’s go forward in 2009.

    Exodus 14:15 And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward…


  13. As usual, a fan. an endless fan; because of “that”, simply your skill to say essentials simply and with all the audience to applause. I give you all my best thoughts, keeping in mind that without technologies, “that” could not have happened. Tech for life, but life with spirit, share and warmness. It seems you found the recipe, think about never lose it, giving the holy “graal” to your inheritage.

    A definitive fan, Laurent

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