Well, 2016, it has come time that we part ways. And while, personally, you haven’t been all that bad on the whole, you’ve just been downright brutal when it comes to childhood nostalgia and other such world events. I mean you took virtually every musician and actor* that I grew up loving, as well as a handful of other significant people. You saw a few brutal attacks on western life – that garnered tremendous outrage – while a number of “other” incidents took place which received little, if any, coverage. I mean, they were in “those” parts of the world, so really who could blame you… or them for not really caring. You were deemed to be the warmest year in human history, which has only been reiterated by the instances of ‘worst drought/flooding to happen xx number of years,’ along with a continuous stream of other weather and climatic related occurrences from earthquakes to hurricanes, record highs and lows, and pretty much everything in between. You contained a number of brutal political blows such as Brexit and Trump, and irrelevant to the majority of the world, president Museveni’s 6th term as President of Uganda (yes, we’re going into year 31 with our beloved leader!). And all this is only a minor snapshot of the doom and gloom you have bestowed upon this world.
But since this is my blog – my space to let my creative and/or ranty juices flow – I’d like to bring this back to me. Let’s just take a minute to discuss my 2016. Here are just a few of the highlights:
My brother’s visit to Uganda in April, and his first time on the continent, which allowed him to see, first hand, just how incredible this part of the world truly is. We had a great 10 days travelling around the country taking in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Uganda.
I fulfilled my number one dream, goal, and bucket list item, which of course was lion snuggling. I also had the “pleasure” of being paparazzi-ed by a group of Asian tourists who took delight in my uneasiness of holding a snake that could just as easily decide I was a worthwhile lunch option.
I was able to contribute to some meaningful work, even if it won’t be viewed by the majority of those who could actually do something with it. This work included my research on the disengagement of youth in the Ugandan agriculture sector, as well as assisting a team from Makerere University in their research on food insecurity and its link to child trafficking.
I spent the longest time I’d been at home in over two years, which included catch-ups with old friends, mini Grammy vacations, plenty of early morning kayaking adventures (including the fear of nearby shark sightings) and of course, obnoxious amounts of sushi consumption.
I sat in my grandmother’s TV room, in solidarity with a good majority of the rest of my home-country to show support for a man who has placed a tremendous contribution both artistically and politically within Canada and the rest of the world, and for who chooses to spend his remaining days fighting the good fight towards a world free from injustice. And while Gord Downie may not be my favourite singer, not his band my favourite musical group, I can certainly understand the gravity of this tremendous loss of Canadiana, its culture, and the impact his passing will surely have on the bigger issues facing this country (i.e. Indigenous Rights).
I was one of 10 ‘wild card’ participants at the Nudge Global Leadership Challenge, which took place in Zeist, Netherlands, and placed me amongst some of the most incredibly energetic, inspiring and wonderful folks I have ever had the pleasure of spending 3 exhausting days with!
The blog has seen inexplicable attention since the lead up to the US election, with each month increasingly gaining over the last – and continuing to do so. December is currently on track to hit over 7000 views (compared to the usual 400-600 average!).
But the thing I am most proud of, is my return to Uganda and the beginnings of a very slow, but exciting chapter of my life. These past few months back in the country I have taken to so greatly, have been challenging, beautiful, and filled with numerous reunions with old friends and colleagues – including one very big reunion from a friend not from this part of the world! Each day I continue to be humbled by the kindness of the people I interact with – inspired by their stories, humility, and openness to a little Orange Canadian like me.
And while all this is great, there is so much that I have learned, about myself, life in general, and the world that surrounds me.
This year I have lived, I have loved, and I have lost. But most importantly, I continue to survive the sometimes frustrating and brutal realities of the world we live in. I have embraced many of the opportunities that have been sent my way. I have taken on projects and positions that have challenged my way of thinking, that have taught me things I otherwise would never have known, and overall just allowed me to grow. I’ve faced a few heartbreaks, and have come out smiling, all while trying to just be in the moment every minute that I can.
I have been told that I love too much – too big – while others maintain that I have yet to give enough of myself in order to make them happy. But, I’m only one person, with only so much time, energy and empathy/understanding to give to another singular individual, let alone a number of others. Someone once told my mother that she can’t take care of the whole world, which in many cases her eagerness to try to do so most likely lead to passing. But I fear I also hold this responsibility myself, with the number of projects I want to get started, the research I wish I had endless time and money to complete, or the vast number of causes that deserve far more attention and energy than I can offer. All of this has led me to conclude the following about myself: I lack perfection – but happily so. Sure, sometimes my imperfections can be difficult to accept, but then, at least, I have something to work towards, to keep me interesting, to keep life worth living, and to continue to challenge me. My life is far from where I thought it would be, but I’m on a path that is exciting, and one that I can confidently lift my head to acknowledge.
2016 – you were different, that’s for sure. But I have persevered, and I can’t wait to see what 2017 throws at me!
-the Orange Canadian
*But you couldn’t have done me a solid and taken Michael Bay, now could you!?