A New Year


The sun is setting and soon the books will close on 2013.  It has been quite a year.  For me, the year will end in much the same way it has on many previous occasions- working at the hospital.  But this year I’m far South of the Equator, and as I muddled through my work at the hospital today, I got to thinking.  I’m half way around the world from where I was last year….are things really that different this year?  Did I learn anything in the last year?   After I saw my last patient this evening,  I returned to my office and sat down.  My office….it’s a stark room.  No windows and I haven’t decorated it yet.  It is a good place for reflection.  I sat there for about an hour, thinking about where I was last year at this time, who was in my life at that time and who was not, and about where I am right now.  I drove home, with the highlight reel of this year playing in my head.  My house was quiet, as it always is until Pandora wakes up.  The only, and I mean THE only, good thing about not having my family here (only five more days until they arrive!) is I do have quiet time for reflection.  And so, here is what I have learned this year…..

It is OK to be uncomfortable.

-Fear is a part of life.  A necessary part of life, but it should not rule your life.  Uncertainty is discomforting, but unless you push the boundaries of comfort, you will not grow. If you don’t grow you will involute.  The last time I truly lived on my own I was half my current age.  It was not easy to venture to New Zealand and work in an unfamiliar environment.  It was not easy to live alone for the last four months.  What I have learned from this experience, though, is unmeasurable.  I am stronger, more whole than I was before.

There will be opportunities to help others.  You should do your best to carry these out.

-It is seductively easy to pass these opportunities by.  After all, so many others do, no one will notice if you do too.  After all, it’s just one little thing, and how could that really make a difference?   But then, that’s how the world changes, isn’t it?   One little thing at a time.  Never, never underestimate the value of one, even small, act of kindness.  If there is someone you can help, don’t think, just do.

Our time on this Earth is fleetingly short. 

-Life is too short to waste with anger, vengeance or spite; carry those emotions with you to the grave and you ensure yourself a cold, heartless coffin.  It is too short to not hug the ones you love every chance you get and tell them that you love them.  It is too short to not forgive someone who is, after all, a fallible human just like you and I.  Maybe you will be fortunate and live a long life, even into your 90’s.  Maybe you will pass away when you are just six years old.  If there is justice in the world, it is not for us to understand.  We do not get to choose the length of our lives, but we can choose how to live them.  Choose wisely.

There is more I have learned, but that is for another day.  Tonight, I set out to photograph the last sunset of the year.  The skies looked promising, but in just the short ten minute drive to the Pacific coast, a huge thunder storm moved inland.  As I drove closer to the shore, I was upset my photographic swan song would not happen.  But then, when I parked and got out the car, I captured this.


You don’t always know what you’ll get with life.  Take a chance, go with it.

Happy New Year,


Published by dave clarke

I am different things to different people. Husband, father, doctor, teacher, friend, or if you're a fish, a fly fisherman. But really, I'm just a guy trying to learn about life, and if I'm lucky, maybe teach a little bit along the way. If I were a golfer (I'm not) I would be on the back nine of my life, or if I were a book, there would be more pages turned than not. Any yet, I'm far from finished creating chapters of my life. The goal of Next Chapters is inspiration, and I'm hopeful the traffic goes in both directions.

13 thoughts on “A New Year

  1. Hi Dave,
    Happy New Year! I have really enjoyed your blog and your pictures. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  2. Happy new year Dave, I guess no holiday card this year? But this blog is great, love your pictures and your stories! Will you continue after your family comes? Warm wishes!

  3. Happy New Year Bro,
    May each new horizon be more blessed than the previous. May each new lure affirm the lines strength and may HE who gives each day be honored forever.

  4. As we left the highway and crossed into the Vizcaino Desert on the Baja peninsula last summer, and the thermometer read 115, in the shade, we responded to discomfort and fear with the mantra, “say yes to new experiences…growth happens in the risk zone.” And if there is any guarantee in life, it is new experiences. Yes, let’s embrace the chance to help someone new, to learn and grow when we must let go of the people in life who comfort us. Let’s not look to possessions and familiarity as our compass but instead, look within our hearts, and ask, “How can I use my gifts today, to make someone smile.” Thanks for blogging, Dave.

  5. I have enjoyed your pictures, your words so very much. And I have read the line- “We do not get to choose the length of our lives, but we can choose how to live them”, over and over again.
    Happy 2014, wishing the very best for you and your family.

    1. Thanks, Jasmine, Hopefully will get to the blog this weekend, as I haven’t had much internet access on our South island tour over the last two weeks, cheers, dave

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