2017 has gone really quickly, or has it? It seems like a very long time ago that as a family we swam at Bondi Beach early in the morning on New Years Day, most of the others on the beach had been up all night and illicit smoke drifted between the dotted Dunkirk like groups, some slept, curled up, spooning in their party gear. A guitar or two strummed away and uniformed police patrolled on quad bikes, along with the life guards. Being bashed around by the surf was a good start to 2017.

Since then it has been a funny year, not the best, nor the worst. I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled in Australia and here at home in New Zealand. Not too shabby, especially when you remember that people save their whole lives to visit Down Under and here we are living there. It’s a reminder to get out and enjoy the place pretty much wherever you live. I’d love to go back to London or Paris or Scotland or France or wherever – so if you’re there, maybe just remember that? I hung out with two of my siblings for three weeks in the deserts of Australia this year too. We haven’t spent time collectively for that long since we were kids growing up back in Devon in the sixties and seventies. We survived too.

I’ve resolved not to make resolutions this year. It doesn’t stop me wanting to do the same things as usual, I’m just not going to write them down so they can go unticked. I’m pretty much the same size I was a year ago which is pretty much what I was ten, twenty, thirty years ago, with minor variation. I’m slower because I’m older. I still drink too much on occasions. I’m healthy for the moment and so are my family – I’ll stick with that this year.

There is a book by Johan Norberg a Swedish economic historian called Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future which I’ve just ordered. It’s to counter a book I read this time last year by George Monbiot the Guardian journalist who seems to summarise that the world is going to hell and back in a handbag. This year though the world does seem to be a harsher place or maybe I’m just getting softer or more sensitive.

My wife has a bit of a catch phrase, not unique of course, but one that works for me. “Only kindness counts”. I’ve been impressed recently with a friend who I don’t really know that well, being kind to another, who I know a bit better. He has been completely selfless. My point is that what follows is what I would have written down this year if I was “resoluting” and trust me I’m not preaching, anyone reading this can do what they bloody well like. I’m going to try and be a nicer human being. After all, only kindness counts. Happy New Year.

Pete Carter is the author of This is Us. Due out in June 2020 it will be published by Exisle and tells the story of more than 200 New Zealanders in words and pictures. The book is really a portrait of the nation and how it is made up. Pete wrote Our Dog Benji a children’s book illustrated by his nephew, published by EK in 2017. He is also the author of two books of poetry. He has had magazine articles published and poetry in anthologies. As a photographer he has had two solo exhibitions and work included in group exhibitions in NZ and overseas and has sold work to and been commissioned by corporate clients.

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