Looking Back at Being 47

Today is the end of me being 47 years old.  I’ve been writing all year in one way or the other about how 47 is my favorite number, and now we’re here at the end of the year and all I can wonder is, did I actually do justice to this iconic moment in my life?  After all, I don’t get to go back and do it again.

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Can I, indeed, think of 47 things I did or experienced this year that made the year notable or cool?

Let’s try!1. My friends from the United States came and visited our family, staying with us for nearly a month!  These guys are long-term friends, especially the wife of the family, and they have been supporting in my life journey ever sincerity first started taking me overseas.

2. I got to visit some cool places this year.  In particular, I got to Manila for the second time in my life, with two of my daughters and with those friends from America.  It was great to be able to share that experience together.

3. I also got to revisit Thailand in late March / early April, for a week.  I was there for work meetings but one of my best friends (fellow filmmaker J.R. De Ford) lives there, and I got to spend quite a bit of time with him, so that was really nice (the people I was meeting with are also my friends!) And I even got to test my mettle on the way home by seeing if I could still survive sleeping overnight in an airport.

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Turns out I can.

4. I also visited Ethiopia for a week, which was the 34th country that I’ve been able to visit on this life journey of mine.

5. And on top of that, I got to go to country #35, Djibouti, and see some truly stunning and nearly alien-looking views!  Really hot, but very beautiful (check out the picture at the top of the post).

6. I was more involved in my children’s schooling this year, which I’ve enjoyed.  My youngest two daughters are home schooled in a co-op, and I’ve been involved in teaching them and others math, film, and comic book storytelling in particular.

7. Cooking!  Make no mistake, I’m no accomplished cook, but I’ve been learning a bit more of my way around the kitchen and finding some enjoyment in it, making basic things like nice spaghetti , or nachos, or my wife’s Mother’s Day breakfast.

8. Escape Rooms – I’ve done a few this year, which I’ve enjoyed, in particular one in which I was a police officer trying to escape from a serial killer’s apartment before he got away.  I’ve also written a few amateur ones, one for my work team and another for my daughter’s 13th birthday.

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9. I wrote an Escape Room for a professional company here in Perth, which is actually my first ever “for pay” writing.  It changed a bit between writing and production (as do all things) but the basic plot and structure are the same.  It’s called “The Vault” and is about breaking into a villainous madman’s inner headquarters to stop a sinister and destructive plan that will destroy the city.  I’m now working on another one that is about trying to synthesize the antidote to a deadly toxin before the plane you are on crashes.

10. I also finally got around to finishing producing and starting to edit the latest set of Hanna Jo Stories.  Episode 10 and Episode 11 came out this year, and I’m getting there with Episode 12.

11.  My science fiction short film, Call Me, was also completed this year.

12. At the beginning of the year my work team did a team retreat, which went really well.  That sort of thing is a lot of effort, but I really enjoyed getting away with the small group of people I work the most closely with.

13. And then a bit later, we had a big staff retreat with the entire Christian community that I’m part of.  A very different time, but incredibly enjoyable, relaxing and inspiring. Both of these were in the beautiful southern part of our state.

14. My family also spent some time with my wife’s family halfway across the country for our annual holiday.  That contained a lot of fun times, including a great walk at a place that used to be called Reedy Creek.

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15. And also another neat place called Coorong National Park, where we went with my wife’s sister and her husband.

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16. Apparently, I published 110 blog posts this year (including this one, if I get it done).  That seems like a lot!

17.  My family and I discovered Netflix’ Lost in Space this year, which was great fun.  We all enjoyed it a lot.  I also watched the first two seasons of Endeavour and enjoyed that quite a bit.

18. And I got to spend some nice time with my oldest daughter watching Stranger Things.  We’re still just halfway through Season Two.  (She just has so much homework, it’s hard to find the time!)

19. My middle daughter was baptized this year, along with a friend.  This is something that she brought up with us some time ago, so it was cool to see happen.

20. My youngest daughter suddenly got a hankering for salmon, which is really expensive.  But when I was preparing my wife’s mother’s day breakfast, I decided to buy some to include, and it was delicious!  We all loved it.  It’s too costly to make part of the regular diet, but as a special occasion item it’s do-able and enjoyable.

21. This cat.  Who paid us the kindness of not dying this year.

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Our other cat did die, which was sad, but we’re still glad we had him.

Oh, okay, this dog too, even though I find him more annoying.

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22. One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde–one of my favorite books in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series.  I picked it up for my birthday last year even though I’ve read it before, but this time had the enjoyment of reading it out loud to my children.  I had to edit a couple of bits, but my kids really enjoyed it, so I did as well.

23. Comics!  I’m not fully sure what I acquired this year in particular, but I do know it includes both Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes vol 1 (continuing the 1970’s Legion reprints after the discontinued Archives line), and The Legion vol 1 (reprinting the beginning and best part of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s stories from the early 2000’s).  Great stuff.

24. Also, DC put out a series of one-shots where Warner Brothers animated characters met up with DC heroes, including a really good Bugs Bunny / Legion of Super-Heroes crossover.  Also, there was an interesting Batman / Elmer Fudd crossover, and a Lobo / Road Runner one, which is a bit of a masterstroke of an idea.

25. My wife and oldest daughter went to Nepal and helped build a house for an unfortunate family who had lost theirs in the earthquakes some time ago.  I know, that’s not my direct accomplishment or experience or anything, but it’s still something that was a big part of my year.

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26.  Similarly, I “Executive Produced” a film project that many of my colleagues went onto in the Kimberly, a very needy region in the northernmost part of our state in Australia, that seems to have gone very well (editing is still ongoing). My team also finished a few films that we shot last year, including for audiences in Indonesia and the Philippines.

27. I’ve been running a media training program for many years, almost as long as I’ve been in Australia.  I finished what is probably the last of this particular program I’ll even do shortly after my last birthday. That’s a bittersweet thing because I have enjoyed doing it, and have seen a lot of growth to our staff team and ministry come out of it, but it also has been very time consuming and at times has made it challenging to accomplish other things.

28. But part of that has been getting the vision for new, restructured media training that we will offer in the future, which will allow greater flexibility in the areas that has been challenging.  So that’s very exciting.

29. I just saw Dunkirk on the plane on this recent trip, and loved it.  What an immersive story.  Christopher Nolan for the win!

30. I also finished reading The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, finally, after many false starts.  I finished it on the very long train ride between Ethiopia and Djibouti.  I wouldn’t call it a favorite book, but I did find it emotionally moving.

31. This window in a jewelry shop.

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Lots of really nice items…and then a funny little rock with googly eyes and a couple of feathers glued to it!  An art project by the owner’s kid maybe?

32. Pandemic Legacy Season 2  has begun!  This is the sequel board game to the one that I played with three friends in particular, and this year we have launched out into this new narrative game adventure of trying to rescue the future from disease and despair.  We play whenever our busy schedules allow us, and are nearly halfway through the story.

The year was filled with lots of other games as well.  We were given Seven Wonders by some friends, and also got King of New York, Code Names and the Rook City expansion pack of Sentinels of the Multiverse as presents.  Plus all the classics.  Good fun, and quality time with friends and family.

33. We were also fortunate enough to got free tickets to the movie Wonder, which we all appreciated a lot as well.

34. We also took a few days by ourselves at a town north of us called Kalbarri, which was very nice

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…even if we did break down on the ride home.

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35. Fish Story, a Japanese film I watched this year. I blogged about it and said it wasn’t a favorite movie, but I do find I’m reflecting upon it and referencing it quite a bit.

36. Superhero films!  Since I turned 47, I have seen Spider-Man: Homecoming, Justice League, Avengers Infinity War, Black Panther, and Thor Ragnarok.  All of them had merit, even Justice League.  Incidentally, I mention this not because I think superhero films are the best, but because it wasn’t that long ago, really, that superhero films were a rarity, and in spite of the potential over-saturation, I still get a big kick out them.

37. My new iPhone 7.  I’m not a big techno-addict or anything, and I know that the iPhone 7 is not the latest and greatest, but it’s a big step up from my iPhone 4 (I went from a 4 to a 7…47, get it?), and the difference is astounding.

38. Oh!  Speaking of 47, I realized something funny this year.  I was looking at a periodic table of the elements, and trying to see if I could spell my name using just the elemental symbols.  I found that I could, thanks to Beryllium (“Be”) and Nitrogen (“N”).  Now, the Atomic Number of Beryllium is 4, and the Atomic Number of Nitrogen is 7–47!  So, 47 is not just my favorite number, it’s actually embedded into my name at an atomic level!

(OK, to be clear, as I mentioned here, I don’t think “47” thing is actually important at all, at any level.  But I think it’s funny, so I got a kick out of this one).

39.  In December I organized and managed a Carols by Candlelight programme in a local park which was a big success.  It was the 13th such program that I’ve been part of.

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40. Just tonight I had a great big cheeseburger for dinner on a bit of a date with my middle daughter, and we ended up discussing our theories for how Thanos could have had an Infinity Gauntlet in his cupboard way back in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and what he was talking about when he said, “Fine, I’ll do it myself.”  We decided that there must be a bunch of fake Gauntlets out there, made by some hero of the distant past who was trying to slow down any villain from wielding the Stones.  Thanos had one, but didn’t know it was fake, hidden away.  Ever since Loki failed to get the Space Stone for him in the first Avengers movie, he’s been watching earth, waiting for an opportunity.  Thus, he saw Ultron about to destroy humanity with Sokovia, and thought this would give him his chance (since presumably, earth’s superhero defenders would be destroyed).  When Ultron failed, Thanos grumpily announced “Fine, I’ll do it myself.”  Shortly after this, he attacked Xandar, took the Power Stone and attempted to attach it to his Gauntlet, discovering that it was a fake.  So that’s when he went to Nidavellir and forced the dwarves to make a real Gauntlet for him.  This would have been when Loki was ruling Asgard, which is why the Asgardians weren’t paying attention and never helped. See?  It all fits!

41. Hazelnut syrup – got some for free, and it’s made my coffee that much better.

42. Speaking of coffee, I recently finished a draft for a new script called I Ain’t Your Caffeine Monster.  It’s just a draft, but it’s pretty long, so I’m pretty pleased I actually got it down.  For all the filmmaking I have done and enjoyed, and for all the stories I have come up with, I often find it difficult to actually get things written down or created.

43. And we had a weekend in a nearby place called Moore River with some good friends who were visiting from Canada (who used to live where we do in Australia).  That including some fun kayaking on the river.

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44. Incidentally, kayaking!  We bought some kayaks this year–two of them.  One a present specifically for my wife, and the other was bought specifically by my youngest daughter, who somehow has more disposable cash than any of us.

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45. I’ve also worked on a script and shooting plan for a project with two of my daughters, called 99 Words, which is part of #6 above, but is cool enough to make it its own thing.  We haven’t actually produced it yet, so that will have to be part of the cool things for next year!

46. My brother and his family came to Perth around Christmas time (not just to see us, his wife’s family is from this area), and we had some good times with them.  In particular I enjoyed a Lazer Tag outing with my nephews.

47. Aaaand, all the other stuff.  You know, the normal life.  Making school lunches for my oldest daughter, driving her to school and helping her with math work.  Long talks with my middle daughter about the whole history of “the Flash” as a character–all of them, including Bart Allen.  My youngest daughter sharing her “immense love” with big squeezy hugs.  Lots of talk, fun, prayer & work alongside my wife. My friends, family, vision, and calling, and the God who gives it all.

Yeah, there’s a lot that I haven’t gotten done this year, a lot that tips over to this year’s to-do list.  But that’s to be expected, really.  And more than that, to be appreciated. It means, I guess, that life is fuller than is possible to fully live.  And I’d much rather have it that way than the other way round.

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