Friday, December 31, 2004


I have a few thoughts on the end of 2004. This will be the year my wife and I had our first child. Our daughter came from the air; a phone call from our adoption agency brought her to our home in less than two days.

People have asked if we were in a state of shock, going from zero to a hundred in no time. No, it wasn't shock. We were ready. Our minds were so made up by then that her sudden arrival was a relief.

Along with parenthood, my business has languished. Our finances have sagged. We're looking at cashing in our 401K. I've been working on new ventures, ones that have great promise, since they will use my talents. Starting a new business while managing the ebb of my old one is a strain. 2004 will be year that I worked the hardest, for the least pay---if any.

Where we live, making a small income with a child is murder. It has kept me awake at night.

2004 is the year that I have felt more distance from friends. I love them, but I feel distant. I really think it's me, too. I have no animosity towards them---I just feel a certain drift on my part. It's me who has changed. I feel less compelled to call them, or rely on them for advice. I find myself watching them struggle with their lives, but I feel isolation, not solidarity. Part of the drift has to do with an incongruent world view; other parts are simply beyond me. And it's sad.

2004 was the year of blogging for me. Somehow, I got noticed by Winds of Change. I'm not entirely clear as to why. Sometimes I wonder if my stuff really fits there. It's been an enormous effort to write essays that are substantive. And I made some mistakes, where readers are quick with the knife. That's to be expected, I suppose. It's been an interesting ride, and although I have slowed, I will plug away. My plan for 2005 is more exclusive entries on this blog, along with the Winds essays. I don't think everything I want to say belongs there.

And then there's the grand finale to 2004. Giant, crushing waves in Asia. I've been glued to this horror story, downloading tsunami videos, playing them over and over while listening to 'Times Like These' by Foo Fighters. Over, and over, and over again. Part of me is fascinated, since tsunami footage is really rare. Another part of me thinks about the year, and life. In one of the tsunami videos, the people are frivolous in the face of the rising wave, not realizing until the very end that their lives were in peril. Then they ran. They ran as hard as they could. But it was too late.

We got a lot of Christmas cards this year, many with messages of God's love. I was sick with a cold and a friend emailed me that he was praying for my recovery. It was nice of him, but I wondered why God would want to heal my cold while the Indian Ocean beat down entire cities in Asia. I've always wanted some sort of faith, and I admire those who have it. But for me, it's elusive---a beautiful idea that doesn't suit me.

Sometimes I think the only difference between God-fearing and godless people is that the believers think we're being watched, while the unbelievers think we're basically on our own. Going through life thinking that someone out there cares and worries about me is powerful stuff. It's just a matter of seeing things that way. For now, I don't.

So long, 2004. The year of waves and babies. I'll never forget you.