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James Wanless

this is where I write

All I want for Christmas …

balls
As my thoughts turn a little bit to the past year and what the coming one may bring, I give you my musings on the way I’d like things to be. I don’t spend too much time regretting things I’ve done, nor do I make a bunch of new year’s resolutions to simply break when they become difficult to maintain for this reason or that.

Assuming I write one, my year in review will come in about a week. No, this is more what I wish for – or not, as the case may be – in general terms. Part melancholy, part aspirational, the things I could do without, the things I like the way they are and the things I’d like to see more of …

What I’d like less of

When I wrote about making sense of Christmas a year ago today and expressed my seasonal wishes before that, in 2011, I had largely the same feelings as those below. If I really think about it, this section is a big piece of my overall personal philosophy.

Narcissism. This really saddens me. If there’s one thing that drives greed, gluttony and a me-first credo, this is it. Whether we’re buying a bunch of crap we don’t need, living to excess in any number of ways, taking more than giving, parking in handicapped spots, road-raging, or even committing lesser annoyances (but annoyances nonetheless) involving digital devices and self-absorption, narcissism seems at the root of most of it. The “me” generation is fully upon us, from keeping up with the Joneses to instant gratification. I know these things are more complex than that, however, in my mind less “me” everywhere would be a great thing.

Animal suffering. I don’t eat them, I don’t wear them and I don’t attend or patronize anything that exploits them for entertainment. Doing so simply represents too much suffering. As with all the ways in which our society does harm to animals, the ways in which we can help them are almost endless. Christmas, in particular, is one of the hardest times of the year for the non-humans in our midst. I’d love to see us do animals a collective solid, by even making just small changes to what we consume. Starting with why, where and how things are made is a good place.

Organized religion. It’s very easy to find good things done in the name of religion, and that’s great. Unfortunately, from what I can see, that pales in comparison to the net effect of bad things done in the name of the same. From ISIL to Christian fundamentalism and everything in between. Faith-based decision-making seems to push adherents to extremism in an effort to convince the unwashed of their righteousness. Please … just less religion.

What I’d like to stay the same

Connie. Having a great relationship with a wonderful spouse is something I expect those of us blessed with such a thing, tend to take for granted. I hope I don’t. She’s my best friend, partner, lover and all-round awesome supporter. And, supporting an idiosyncratic curmudgeon and shit disturber, a lesser woman would have killed me or just run away screaming. I can’t say whether she’s ever come close, but I’m still here, she’s still here and I hope it remains just so until my dying breath.

Brody. I wrote about our adoption of this rescue dog in May and, his continued change and adaptation from a fear-aggressive mistrusting orphan to full-on goofy family pet has been a truly inspiring experience. I’m planning to write a full update upon his one-year anniversary with us, but as of this writing Brody is really the shit (the good kind).

The Wanless man-boys. The continued growth of my now adult sons into good men … While I’d love to take credit, I can’t. They’ve been through all the crap that comes with divorce/custody conflict – and a lot of it I might add – and managed to come through as well-adjusted, caring guys. Both of them very different people, but close to each other and us, I can honestly say we’re good friends. 2015 promises to be a year with both of them hanging in far-flung corners of the world for periods of time, but I really cherish the fact that they’re both doing some (very different) exploring to experience their world.

What I’d like more of

This one’s the hardest to write for me, as the list is almost endless. You can probably tell health and fitness are pretty important to me and, in the past few years both Connie and I have had our share of things – big and little – on this front. Cancer, torn cartilage, sports hernia, nerve damage and pulled groins to name but a few. Being middle-aged and active … Need I say more?

Healthy running. While I’ve had big stoppages in running-related activities in each of the years between 2009 and 2013, 2014 produced no such major outage. While I do now have what appears to be early stage left foot osteo issues to mitigate, it’s more a case of trial and error to see what kind of volume I can tolerate. Aside from the types of tweaks that sideline all of us for a week here and there, I’ve managed a regular, albeit modest, running and cycling schedule for most of the year. All I really want is more of that.

Good sports medicine. Related to the above, I have to give a big shout out to my podiatrist, Dr. Roy Mathews, and my physiotherapist, Damien Moroney. I feel the work these two have done to fix my foot and help me develop my core and stability, are largely why I’ve run (and cycled) healthy for the past year. I’d just like to see more on this front – more of the right healthcare, more of the right outcomes and more active living.

Cancer eradication. My wife beat early stage breast cancer several years ago. Earlier this past year, a friend’s wife left behind a husband and young children and, currently, another friend is being treated. This doesn’t even touch on the numerous family members, friends and acquaintances touched by the big C in the more distant past. Whatever it takes to beat it, I just want to see more of it – lots more. It starts with fundraising, which feeds research, which then drives outcomes. I want more of all of it. Perhaps cancer should also be in my less of section above, but while we can do some things that statistically raise or lower our chances of developing the disease, frankly it’s pretty random and indiscriminate.

So, there you go. I realize the list above is kind of arbitrary and very individual, and may be very different from yours. What’s on it? How is what you want different from what I want? All I can really say is that I hope even a small bit of the stuff above happens.

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