For those of you that are still reading this despite the title, thanks.
It's nearly the end of another very exciting and pleasant year. True, there's been economic depression, and things in that regard haven't been great - but there have been a load of positives.
I'm not going to list all the good things that have happened to me, as I know I'd omit some and end up making some people feel like crap, but I think the best thing that's happened to me has been perspective.
When I began 2009, I'd just got back from a pretty inspiring visit to South India, and had made the decision to head back out there. It was a bit of a dramatic change from the seemingly monotonic day-job - and was a fresh and direct challenge to help a cause that I believed in. Having spend 7 of the last 12 months out there, I feel a pretty strong connection to the area. Imagined or not, it's like another 'mini-conscience' inside of me, making me think of how privileged I am to be able to do what I'm doing either out there, or here in England.
One of the things I spent alot of time doing was trying to reconcile the lifestyle here in England with the lifestyle that I've been calling my own out in India. Whether it be the ridiculous amounts in comparison spent on a cup of tea, to the meals that I was eating and the clothes I was wearing; to even how I was thinking. The conclusion though is that it's impossible to reconcile it. Living a Western Lifestyle is passively harming the people I met in India.
At this juncture, I can see two options open to me.
A) I decide to become a saint and live with as little as possible and try to live a 'perfect' life - avoiding those things in Western Society that I see as damaging to my friends out in India.
B) I live the life that's put in front of me, and work out a way that I can affect the situation as I make my way through it.
Whilst option A is probably the most laudable option, I know I'm going to make mistakes and option A doesn't allow for that. I do not yet have sufficient experience or foundation to be able to fulfil option A without having to rely on someone else. As that 'someone else' would effectively just be living the Western Lifestyle, all I would have ended up doing is passively harming 'by proxy.'
The most important thing therefore is never to lose sight of my overall aim. I need to get myself in a position where I can positively affect the situation, and despite my best intentions I've come to realise that the time is not now. However, my thoughts are with my friends in India over Christmas. Guilt is the wrong emotion - perspective is knowing that what's coming to me I in no way deserve.