Here we are, on the first day of the new year. It is my sincere hope that each of you, individually and severally, have a joyous and prosperous year in 2008. Without regard to our previous condition of fellowship, friendship, or even antagonism, may you and yours ALL have a wonderful year. If that can be managed, I trust that our contentment and good will may rub off on each other, and that those with whom I have disagreed will let bygones be bygone, and wish me and mine well in return.
As a matter of realism, though, I acknowledge that there are those for whom I CANNOT wish any success, health, or anything beneficial. I doubt that any of them read my humble blog, but if any do, they know who they are, and may they burn in hell forever. Lest any with whom I've had minor misunderstandings think that last applies to them, please be assured that it does not. It applies to terrorists who would victimize the freedom-loving people of the world simply because we have a different belief system than they. It applies to ALL criminals who harm the innocent, the inoffensive, the people of good will. And it applies particularly to those who take advantage of children in any way, to gratify their own desires.
Perhaps I am mellowing out in my senior years. The self-protective veneer of cynicism, the hard crust of suspicion, the resilient shell of paranoia, formed over decades of being a peace officer, are gradually dissipating like the ablative tiles of a space vehicle on re-entry. I'm glad that even when I held my lowest opinion of the human condition, I could still look around and see that the vast majority of PEOPLE were, and are, very decent beings. The truly evil or dangerously weak individuals are NOT the norm. Those are the high profile types, to be sure, but the NICE ones, so seldom featured in the news – THEY are our friends and neighbors, the ones with their own families and friends for whom they care deeply. They do not victimize their fellow beings, and, to varying degrees, will actually go out of their way to help out others, their neighbors or even total strangers.
Others have recently written perspectives on 2007. Elder Son Matt did one asking the question, "Am I better off than I was a year ago, today?" He invites comments by his readers, and some of them are quite interesting. I started to write my own comment but decided it would better provide my own overdue blog installment.
Sometimes, “better” may be measured in terms of less pain than formerly. In August 2006, my only brother died after a lengthy bout with brain cancer. By the start of '07, the grieving process was just getting well started. The ensuing year has advanced that recovery, fully as well as can be expected, so I'm doing better in that regard.
Twelve months ago, I was recovering from both a broken hip and a detached retina. Both required surgery, several weeks apart. The rehabilitation after the hip repair was complicated by the loss of functional sight in my afflicted eye. With the unstinting help of Beloved Bride and my sons, and significant assistance of friends, I managed a decent recovery.
Upon retirement at the end of '04, I took the best insurance plan offered by our system. Without that plan, I'd be deep in medical debt, but the situation is manageable. There's still significant co-pay, though, and money was shorter than usual for a while. Fortunately, though, an old boss offered me a part time job, and this settled into a twice-a-week gig of simple surveillance at a construction site. The additional income took up the slack fairly well, and my savings account is a little more healthy than it was a year ago. Between the physical recovery and paying the medical bills, I'm definitely better now than then.
By way of my hobbies, I've recovered sufficient health to participate in a few shooting matches. Matt and I enjoyed a very pleasant hog hunt through the generosity of Rich Lucibella. I even blundered into a couple of decent gun deals. Not many, but the acquisitions have been pleasant, and are fun to shoot.
In answer to the original question, Yessir, I'm personally better off today than on New Year's Day 2007.