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Obligatory 2012 post

January 1, 2012

A new year has begun and for some reason, we always feel the need to reflect on that and celebrate it. I had a very quiet but lovely celebration, with lots of traditional deep fried food (oliebollen and appelflappen, naturally), some fireworks, and good company. Before my guests arrived, I took stock of everything I did over the past year. There were quite a lot of fun things to remember. I traveled to Lisbon and London, I got a new job, I found a thesis topic, I went to the theater and concerts and “low culture” (read: amazingly fun) events like the Sing-Along Sound of Music. There were good times and bad times, as there are in every year, but overall I think I managed to kick 2011’s ass (it wasn’t always easy: The Mountain Goats’ “This Year” quickly became my theme song). I fully intend to extend my ass-kicking to 2012.

A large part of the coming year has been planned to excruciating detail. I’ll work while also working on my thesis and hope to graduate before the summer, so a detailed planning is a necessity. On top of that I already have trips, concerts, and theater nights planned with several of my friends. 2012, so far, doesn’t seem very mysterious. Yes, the world may end on December 23rd. At least I’ll get to graduate and do a ton of fun stuff before then.

I started off the fun stuff with the now-traditional New Year’s Dive. In 1960, a swimming club in Zandvoort decided to start off the new year with a quick dip in the sea. That minor event has now grown to major happening with a huge corporate sponsor. Across the country, tens of thousands of people strip down to their swimwear to run into seas, rivers, and lakes on New Year’s Day. In my area, this happens in Scheveningen, The Hague’s beach resort town. 10,000 people are allowed on a wide, heavily-monitored stretch of beach and at noon they all run into the sea, screaming and laughing. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, but never dared. But today, thanks to my older sister’s pushiness, I did it! It was one of the warmest New Year’s Eves in a century and we’ve had a warm winter so far, so the sea was much less cold than usual (8 degrees as opposed to last year’s 4). This was definitely the year to try it. We bought our 2 euro ticket, got our goodie bag complete with orange hat, gloves, and can of pea soup (a traditional Dutch winter thing). We pulled off our clothes, jumped and danced to keep ourselves warm, along with the other 10,000 people in attendance and (a few minutes before noon – something went wrong and we started early) ran screaming towards the sea. I won’t share with you the details of my very inelegant run, but believe me when I say it was bad. We made it to the water’s edge in the end though, and threw ourselves into the waves before quickly turning on our heels and hurrying back towards the spot where we’d left our towels and clothes. By then our skin had turned red and blue-ish in spots (even though it was warm for winter, it was not warm by any real standards) and we rushed to get dressed again. Feeling accomplished and quite pleased with ourselves, we rode our bikes back home.

It was something I’d wanted to do, something I didn’t really think I’d ever do, but something I did anyway. I hope that the coming year will be filled with many more things like this. I don’t do resolutions, but if I did, that’d be it: to just do, without thinking too hard or worrying too much. Neil Gaiman words that sentiment better than I ever could (naturally):

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

¬†Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
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