I spent 11 hours in A&E this weekend. Not, you understand, for myself – although with my natural talent for tripping over my own feet, that wouldn’t be entirely surprising – but for a member of my family. That’s not the point of this column – they’re recovering very nicely, thank you very much, in a ward with friendly nurses, a menu, and not-so-elegant gowns that are the least of our worries – but things we should be proud of is the point.
Pride in things seems like a good end to the year, and the NHS is certainly a good example of that. I take it for granted, and I’m sure a lot of us do; how many of us have any memories of the health services beforehand? We hear a lot of fear-mongering about our current system, but I had the opportunity to see it first-hand caring for someone I love, and I have nothing but praise for the staff working in a system that is creaking, yes, but who are determined to do good. I lost count of the number of accents I heard, smiles given, and compassion exuded; I wanted to say thank you to every single member of that team personally, but I’d still be there now.
It’s easy to complain, isn’t it? I hear myself doing it all too often, but I’m reminded of the positives at times like this; we can access health services in times of crisis and it’s still (just about) free at the point of delivery. The NHS is one of our most precious resources, and I saw it absolutely showcase its strengths this weekend; I’m proud to pay into a system, through my taxes, that works despite the byzantine bureaucracy that creaks along in the background – the care and compassion is exquisite.
So there are many things to be thankful for; I’m thankful for my family and friends, who have been put in my path for me to encounter, and I am grateful for the opportunities in 2019 – that I get to be a father for the first and only time and … well, if that were it, then I would be content, but my fifth book will be gestated and born later on in the year. A double whammy of amazing opportunities right there, although I know that the parenthood will be, by far, the most intense, stressful, and rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life.
But this is why I don’t ever do new year’s resolutions. I have goals, sure, but I always refuse to wait for a particular calendar to begin before starting something new and exciting. Being a father, for example, was a long and involved process, and I didn’t want to wait for a particular date in the diary before starting – it’s too exciting, and it means my son will be home with me sooner.
So, be appreciative for the things we have that are rather spiffing – and raise merry hell when things are going wrong – but also be proud of yourselves. Savour the potential in your lives and don’t put off those things you want to do; if they’re important, don’t wait for a particular day before starting. You’ll just regret putting it off, and that simply won’t do.