Well, 2012 is almost in the books, and I can't help but try to take stock of what's happened this year. For me personally, all the things I've left, and am leaving, undone have caused the walls of my life to appear to be closing in on me. There's hardly an aspect of my life -- work, church callings, family life, friendships, home maintenance, etc. -- that I don't feel like I'm falling down on. The only area in which I've clearly made progress is my exercise regimen, inasmuch as I've resumed running on treadmills at the gym after two-and-a-half years of riding stationary bicycles. (I've even got to the point where I'm running three miles in 30 minutes, although thus far it's been beating the daylights out of me.) I have sensed a measure of improvement in my health -- particularly regarding the effects of my mal de debarquement symptoms -- which I attribute to my taking 100 mg of Sertraline/Zoloft every day. I still tend to feel off-balance, brain-fried, and physically fatigued in the afternoons; however, the fact that I can run for a half-hour on a treadmill, without having the machine feel like it's rocking back and forth, is a minor miracle in itself.
As for my family, most of us are doing very well, especially considering the concerns I had at the beginning of the year. Chris has had to put in long hours to keep his auto-repair business afloat, finding that honest, reliable help is hard to find. However, he and Kristy were able to purchase a nice home this year, and the second "j-pouch" surgery that Nicole had done in Cleveland ultimately proved to be a resounding success, providing reason to hope she'll be able to live a long, full life with relatively minor personal inconvenience. Kristy is expecting a new baby boy next spring. Heidi and Dion have had their share of trials this year, and it hasn't been easy for Heidi to have Dion's son Nolan living with them during this school year, but they've hung in there. Easton has been promoted twice this year at Bradbury Stamm, and although Devery has her hands full at home with a three-year-old and a one-year-old, they seem to be going places. Darren received his bachelor's degree this year and started grad school, and, of course, he and Cait are now married and seem poised to accomplish great things. As do Kiley and Sam: Kiley, too, is expecting a baby boy; Sam has been accepted to medical school at UNM; and they have now moved into the larger portion of the duplex in which they've lived since their wedding last year.
I still feel very pessimistic about the long-term prospects for the United States. As Mark Steyn has noted, the U.S. has been there to cushion Europe's decline, heavily subsidizing its defense for two generations now, but who will be there to soften or hold in check our decline? That Barack Obama could be re-elected president, after a first term that served only to explode the national debt and push us further down the socialist path that Europe has already trod and found to be a dead-end, bodes extremely ill in my view. We've seen the steady erosion of constitutional liberties and increasing governmental intrusion in our lives and the personal choices we make, and there's no real end in sight.