2014: Year of Next’s

Florence duomo

A little snippet of my first trip of 2015. Yep, we’re starting 2015 with Italy. Get on my level.

For the past couple of years, rather than determining any particular New Years resolutions, I’ve picked an overall theme for the year. This started with my friends so I can’t take credit for the idea – for some reason we declared the theme of 2013 to be “Getting Weirder,” and get weird it did. It got really weird.

At the end of the year I wasn’t quite sure if it happened that way because we subconsciously fulfilled our own prophecy (I firmly believe that it’s possible to get Macbeth-ed) or because we somehow actually did predict the future (weirder things have happened. Read: the missing Malaysian Airlines plane that no one talks about anymore? Guys?)

Either way, I decided to try the theme thing again for 2014. This time my friends and I didn’t have a joint theme so I chose one for myself – “Next.” And this past year did indeed prove to be one thing after another, and I took steps or started projects that hadn’t even been on my radar in any way at the end of 2013.

It was a great year! The two highlights were Ireland last May and starting this new job in June. And there were a lot of little changes – I grew out my fingernails for the first time in my life and I’m growing out my pixie haircut as we speak. I got my writing published on some new websites – National Geographic Traveler and Hostelworld among them.  I moved to a new city and am without my car for the first time since I’ve been able to drive. Next hairstyle! Next website! Next city! Next phase!

I love this yearlong theme idea so much because I love looking for patterns in situations or over significant periods of time. This is why I like TV shows better than movies – I prefer stories that take place over months or years in real time, where the actors themselves physically change, and you can notice patterns between different seasons, or at the beginning of one season and the end of the next, or just everything that Breaking Bad did. God, Breaking Bad. Still miss it.

But going back to this patterns-in-yearlong-themes thing: this year, something random would happen, like I would be reading a book and get tired of it and instead of stressing about finishing it, I would think, “Next!” Forget the bad book. Move on to a good book.

Whenever I’d be in a store and hear one of the cashiers yell, “Next!” it would make me smile. It was even more satisfying than usual to hit the “Next episode” button when watching a TV series on Netflix. On the subway during my morning commute I grew to like the rhythm of the “Next stop” announcements – also, it’s always just a relief when my subway train is actually moving to the next stop without any delays.

I do accept that some of those little patterns were there because I made them. I found them because I was purposefully seeking them out, and so maybe in some instances I created one or two patterns where none actually were. We see what we want to see, right?

But I also think some of the patterns were there because they would have been there anyway, even if I hadn’t been looking for them. I think it works both ways. You fulfill your own prophecies, but you also can’t rule out coincidences.

2013 was weird because my friends and I made it weird, but it was also weird because my friends and I have reached an age when a lot of really weird things are happening in our lives without our control.  2014 was a year of “nexts” for me because I was always looking for the next thing, but it was also a year of “nexts” because, again, that’s just how life goes at my age. Things really hit the fan in your mid-twenties, apparently.

I’ve already decided on my 2015 theme but I’m not going to share it here because I believe in jinxing oneself almost as much as I believe in Macbething oneself. It’s a dangerous world out there for oneself, apparently.

All I will say about this new year is that currently I am sitting in first class on a train headed from Rome to Turin, drinking my complimentary glass of wine and watching the sun set over the Italian countryside, and I am taking this as a sign that theme or not, patterns or not, 2015 is going to be a pretty good one.

Or it could mean that my 2015 has already peaked and it’s just all downhill from here. Either way I think more wine is in order.