Another year has gone by, in the blink of an eye. So today is the last day of 2015. And today therefore also marks my fourth full year of writing this blog.
What started out as a halfhearted response to a suggestion from a friend when I was feeling down one day – “you should do some writing” – has since morphed into something much larger, that in many ways has become one of the defining parts of “me”.
As in previous years, I have tried to use the occasion of a new year’s impending arrival to review the one gone by. And as with all such exercises, the easiest things to measure are facts and figures. So for the record, here’s a quick statistical round up of my blog for 2015:
- I wrote 22 new posts, so averaging about 2 a month. In response to a frequent suggestion from quite a few readers I tried to cut the length of my posts down. After all, I have to accept that I am competing for eyeball space with things like Instagram. But even so, I still managed to cough up about 40,000 new words, which is not too bad.
- The most popular post of the year was a story I wrote about sampling Conch Salad, the Bahamian national food. Go figure – I have no idea why eating what is basically a sea snail should have been so interesting to so many people.
- On average, about 5,000 people read each post I wrote in 2015. I continue to find the fact that so many folks are interested in what I have to say both incredible and humbling. Who knew anyone would be interested in the ramblings of a slightly lost, nomadic, middle-aged Jewish company executive who likes to eat and travel.
- And, even more incredible and humbling, these readers come from every corner of the planet, thanks to the wonder of living in an internet connected world. Most of my readers are in the USA, Australia and UK, but this year there were as ever some fascinating outliers. All in all, people from 163 countries accessed my blog, including the lone readers in Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan, and Guam. Thank you all for your interest, wherever you are.
Moving away from dry numbers, this past year was again one where I clocked up a lot of travel, even though I swore to myself I would try to wind it back in 2015. I split my time between Australia, the USA and The Bahamas, but as in past years, my main “residence” was a suitcase.
My destination list was not as extensive as in previous years, but did include multiple trips to and within some countries, in-depth exploring of regional parts of the USA, and visits to two new countries (Cuba and Taiwan).
Working counter-clockwise around the globe, I traveled to Australia (4 times), Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, France, England, Spain, the United States (Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Dallas, New York, Denver, Lander Wyoming and Newark Delaware), Cuba and The Bahamas.
Probably the two most memorable journeys of the year were the four days of mojitos, music and dancing in Cuba, and the week I spent hiking the white villages of Andalucia in southern Spain. But shooting guns in a backyard on an all-American 4th of July in Lander, Wyoming was another experience I won’t soon be forgetting.
And, for the first time in a while, I had a sidekick accompany me on some of my trips. There is nothing better than sharing the experience of travel with someone who enjoys it as much as you do. It enlivens even the most tiring of work trips. Thank you for being my travel buddy.
I ended 2013 on a beach in Hawaii, and 2014 ended on a beach in Sydney. 2015 is now concluding on Venice Beach in Los Angeles, so it seems that ending the year with sand between my toes is becoming something of a tradition with me.
And as I breath the ocean air and reflect on the year that has passed, it occurs to me if that I had to sum up 2015 in one way, it would be “my year of connection”.
You see, on many fronts the past year has been a pretty tough one for me, with lots of challenges, and quite a few unhappy moments along the way. But arching over all of these hardships and heartaches, like a bright rainbow in the sky, are the connections I was lucky enough to make with so many wonderful people, all over the world.
2015 was the first year in quite some time where I felt like I was making new friends, in new places, challenging me to expand my thinking and explore new experiences.
But just as important, if not more so, in 2015 I seem to have interacted with a lot of people from my past. Thanks to things as diverse as this blog, Facebook, a youth movement reunion and a best friend’s wedding, I found myself constantly bumping into old friends, long forgotten primary and high school classmates, university buddies, and former work colleagues. In some cases, people I haven’t seen or heard from in over twenty-five years.
And in all of these connections and reconnections, I was surprised to find a sense of inner comfort that I did not expect; an emerging sense of belonging, an understanding of where I come from and where I fit in, and thus a better idea of where I might be going.
I suspect this particular journey still has quite some way to go for me. But as 2016 dawns, I am feeling pretty good. I am feeling like the challenges of the past few years are slowly receding into the background, and that the opportunities of the future are starting to poke their heads around the corner. And I am coming round to the view – reluctantly, slowly, but seemingly inevitably – that being grounded and connected has nothing to do with any specific place, but rather to feeling like you have a place.
So as 2015 fades away, I want to wish you all a very happy new year. Here’s hoping that 2016 is a year of ongoing connection, reconnection, and grounding for us all.
PS: Also during 2015 I finally bit the bullet, sat down and started scribbling in earnest, in fulfillment of a long-held desire to write a book. Things have progressed well, and I hope to have a completed manuscript by the middle of 2016. So stay tuned….