What have you done for the first time this year?

Five firsts for 2016

I have a friend who, at the age of 29, saw, smelled and heard the sea for the first time. And then, for his 30th birthday, he went ten pin bowling for the first time.

Which got me thinking: is this what my life has come to? Is there, as Solomon laments, nothing new under the sun for me? What significant “firsts” have I experienced this year?

I racked my brains and they are few but fine …
Continue reading What have you done for the first time this year?

Getting down and thirty

For one glorious year, I was almost-no-longer-twentysomething – but 29 is still twentysomething. Alas, those days are behind me. I desperately wanted to write an uplifting post about how excited I am about this new decade of life. But milestones seem to lend themselves to melancholy – they’re about past achievements rather than future hopes and dreams. Birthdays provide me with a forced moment of … Continue reading Getting down and thirty

Re-entry. Still from the movie Gravity.

367 days after re-entry

Ten years ago, a lady named Debbie asked me if I was studying Spanish because I wanted to be a missionary in South America. At the time it was a seriously long bow to draw – I in fact had no better reason for studying Spanish other than Age of Empires and the Spanish national football team.

Once I started learning the language, I discovered how beautiful it was to the ear, the mind, the tongue. But even then I didn’t have any particular interest in Latin American culture. I had even less interest in becoming a missionary.

Debbie and I are unlikely to cross paths again, but what she said turned out to be rather prophetic. Continue reading 367 days after re-entry

Revised thoughts on unemployment

Unemployment was a humbling but strengthening experience. It was definitely character-building. With hindsight, I can see that it was a kind of sabbath, one my spirit needed. But at the time, after a certain point, it was a challenge to embrace and enjoy the time off, resist the need to be somehow ‘productive’ – forgetting, of course, that rest is productive in its own way. By … Continue reading Revised thoughts on unemployment

How to grow ambition

I grew up with a lot of positive reinforcement and believing in Jesus has both shrunk and supersized that.

On the one hand, ambition can be a bad word because it implies arrogance. I have become less self-effacing, more confident, over the years, but I doubt anyone I know would describe me as ambitious.

There is still this idea that ambition is a cut-throat attitude, seeking to elevate yourself regardless of the cost to others.

Um … not me.

But y’know what, I am ambitious.

And I’m going to start owning that. Continue reading How to grow ambition

My biography, as told by my booze

A personal atlas of alcohol.

Before you get the wrong impression, this post is not about booze-filled nights from my backpacking days. It’s an anthology of anecdotes and memories, linked by a common theme: alcoholic beverages.

My discovery of different drinks parallels some important memories. These are what I’d like to share with you.

So let me take you from my childhood, all around the world and back home again. In this brief autobiography, I’ll let the alcohol do the talking. Continue reading My biography, as told by my booze

Don’t give up on perfection

I am not a perfectionist. Not in the traditional sense of the word – I decided a long time ago that it was too difficult and painful to live that way, that I wasn’t going to be needlessly harsh and demanding on myself, trying to get everything right down to a tee.

But I am, in my own way, a perfectionist. Deep down, I still believe in and long for perfection. Continue reading Don’t give up on perfection