2015 has been quite a complicated year. It has contained some of the best of times and some of the worst of times. And there is no way i will do it justice in one blog post here. But i thought it was worth looking back and mentioning some of what it held, even if just for me…
THE DAY I HAD NOT BEEN DREADING
2015 saw me start the year with a very much evident lack of dreads and while it was not competely my idea to take them off [3 years was a good run] it has been SO MUCH completely easier and more manageable to have short hair again. i do miss the instant kinship with all Rastas and many black people at traffic lights and in the street, but don’t miss being offered quite as many drugs as before. New streamlined brett fish is a lot less effort, but you must know it can’t be too much longer until i do something new and fun with it – time for a new colour in 2016 per chance.
It was the year i FINALLY got my tat. i had been dreaming of that forever and it seemed like tbV started dreaming about hers and got hers and i was still left wondering if it would ever get to be. Always had kinda an idea of what i wanted but it took an artist to take my ideas and give them her flavour and come up with this, which i am more than happy about.
Maybe even more dramatically it was the year i FINALLY got my book published. “If your Christianity is easy, you’re doing it wrong.” which began 15 plus years ago and then became “All: because there is no choice” and finally “I kissed hating [the church] goodbye!” before landing on it’s actual title of “i, church” got launched in January this year which was a lot of fun and quite a bit of an anti-climax as i now have something like 600 copies of it in my Man Cave [drop me a line if you want to organise your copy!]
But i have a book and it has a really pretty cover [thank you, Kirsten Sims] and hopefully next year i can figure out how to get it into more peoples’ hands. i did get the opportunity to record about 15 twelve minute segments on the book for Cape Pulpit radio which was a lot of fun. And feedback has slowly been trickling in and it seems like in the right hands [particularly those who love Jesus but aren’t fans of church] it has proved particularly helpful.
i DID really enjoy all of the book launches and especially the Q and A conversations we had with those in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Durban and even Oakland and still hoping to sneak one into Joburg/Pretoria area in Jan perhaps…
A book and a tat – those are two pretty significant things.
I WAS ROBBED
2015 was the year that Terry Pratchett died. My favourite fiction author who was an absolute genius especially with the Discworld series that he created. I am awaiting his last ever book which will arrive with friends straight after Christmas but his writing is definitely a loss to the world. Despite being a confirmed atheist, Terry wrote one of the best passages i have ever read on evangelism which you can read at the end of all his funnier or cleverer quotes over here.
It was also the year where, more recently, my best mate Rob lost his five and a half year battle with cancer, which was a really tough one that i [and many others] are still in the midst of trying to process and recover from. In community we learnt some lessons about how to take care of each other well during tragedy as well as learning not to smother or disappear completely but try find some kind of “I’m here if you need me” balance.
As recently as last night, Nicky and Penni and i hiked up Lion’s Head to celebrate a ten year marriage that was such a great example to so many people.
In 2015 i finally got round to buying a domain and a website theme and although it is not quite ready i am hoping to launch brettfish.co.za in 2016 so watch this space. It is time to take my blogging to the next level, whatever that means.
i also started writing for an online magazine called 1Africa.tv and while it is not quite Truth mag yet [it is early days] it definitely has potential to be a South African or African version of Relevant Magazine as it speaks into areas of Lifestyle, Culture and Faith with daily articles. i do still need to convince them to let me have the kind of freedom i had with Truth to push some envelopes and break out of some boxes so watch this space.
i did some Tandem Blog posts with Dave Luis and a number of uniquely talented people which gave me both the freedom and the pressure to create short stories and make some fun, crazy, quirky and interesting virtual friends who i hope to meet one day in real life. We revisited this with just Megan, Dave and myself and look forward to tackling it again sometime in 2016 i’m sure.
i also Broke Bread with Trevor as we tackled 100 word at a time conversations back and forth in email and then published them which was a fresh way of bloggering with someone else.
i did some serious poetry writing in 2015, but also thankx to a Twitterer friend Dante, started experimenting with Micropoetry, which are really short poems where you try and convey the maximum of meaning in the minimum of words [really helpful for a word splurger like myself]
i got a little more regular in the Thort for the Week messages i used to send out and continued with the Yahoo group and have a growing group of people reading them on Facebook as well. Unpacking Scripture and my thoughts on a particular topic week by week and inviting others in to that.
Brad Fish may have not reared his head much in 2015 with ‘Dangerous Things You Can Least Expect’ taking a bit of a hiatus, but we did meet a new guy called Erik with a K, who likes to shout your favourite poems at the screen in a bad germanesque accent. The four people that seem to enjoy either of those characters keep on inspiring me to give it another try so who knows what 2016 will bring, especially if we ever figure out our internet woes.
Definitely the Highlight Poster or 2015 and one of the Highlight shows was Imprompt2 with my friend Megan Furniss. 2 people doing an hour of Improv with absolutely no plan or strategy or idea – absolute fear and absolute fun all in one and can’t wait to do it again and already there is the hope of a four person version in January with our visiting friends Candice and Mark.
i was in a couple of shows of Cape Town’s New Historical Comedy Quiz Show ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ with my mate MJ and some other fun okes performing at Alexander Bar where Impromp2 also happened. More about the fun banter than the actual historical knowledge AWTEW is being tweaked and improved and so far the majority of audiences seem to enjoy it and keep coming back for more.
AND A BUNCH OF OTHER FUN AND SERIOUS THINGS
i wore a kilt for my man MJ and Ash’s wedding [traditional style of course!] and welcomed new babies into the lives of my sister and many friends and saw a number of successful adoptions happen with other frineds and so a lot of celebrating was done. tbV and i successfully made it to 6 years of marriage.
i attended a #FeesMustFall marchat UCT and got to touch the most metallic biceps i have ever felt [possibly also the first time i touched biceps to be fair but these were impressive] at the UWC version.
i collected a whole set of Stikeez [well played Pick ‘n Pay, also you suck!] and somehow managed to convince tbV to dress up as a Gumby for a screening of a live performance of a Monty Python reunion show; i conducted interviews with strangers of trains to hear what they think of present day South Africa and got to paint part of a mural outside a place of safety; i finally got round to starting to learn isiXhosa [Ndiyazama noko] and got welcomed at the airport by a giant Hello Kitty; i met WolverIndian [well got a picture of him in the background of my pretend selfie]; and i introduced former Archbishop Desmond Tutu to the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob…
Val and i started recycling more effectively, we reduced our meat consumption [by having a week of no meat followed by a week of what we would normally eat and then repeating the process – for the last 4 months or so] and we have tried to move to more free range and earth friendly products in a number of ways and areas. Trying to actively do our but to make a difference to the planet we live on for us and those who will follow.
We have hosted significant transformative conversations [called Deep Dive] on topics ranging from how we spend our money, to race and where we choose to live to, to what church means to us, with more planned for the end of this year and 2016. Inviting people to genuinely and uncomfortably at times wrestle with topics that people have different and often strong opinions on – not to arrive at a point of equal agreement necessarily but to really dive deep into a topic and seek to understand other peoples’ thoughts on it.
i have sought to have meaningful conversation and use my created space for other peoples’ voices specifically in the areas of Race and Reconciliation, both with regards to South Africa, but also to Americaland and the world at large. Some of those conversations like the What About Bob series, were at times messy and uncomfortable and shouty, but i have seen people change and know that i need to keep on with White Privilege and Prejudice and How to be a more Effective Ally and more in 2016…
i have visited a whole lot of different churches and got to get a bit of a taste of what is happening in the broader church in Cape Town.
i have read mostly good books – many to try and understand the history of my country from a much broader perspective than the apartheid version i was fed at school and also to try and understand some of what is going on in Israel/Palestine and just to learn and grow and be challenged as a follower of Jesus trying to take that seriously.
i learned the word ‘Askhole’ [Thanks Wayne Eaves!]
SOUTH AFRICA’S #1 HASHTAGGING GAME
Because life can be too serious too much of the time, 2015 was also a time when i got involved in something called Hashtagging Games on the Twitterer. I got to co-host my first game [thanks to my friend Breezy Puffs] and i got to create South Africa’s first and by definition number 1 Hashtagging game under the guise of @AFrikkinHashtag [which you have to say out loud to fully appreciate!] and we have trended number 1 in Americaland as well as various other places across the world, including Australis, The Netherlands and of course South Africa.
Both Eric Idle and John Cleese’s daughter Camilla connected with us when we did a Monty Python game and Jesse from Full House [John Stamos] got involved with one as well.
i was tweeted by Trevor Noah and Chris O’Dowd called me a ‘needy old man’ for Twitterstalking him! What a fun and silly year it has been on the Twitterer [@BrettFishA]
i got Smile FM radio to read out the name “Hugh Jass” on their Brain of the Day segment cos yes i am 41!
And much much more. This has not been a boring year. There has been good, bad and ugly. Difficult, confusing, painful and challenging. But also amazing and fun and celebrationary and good.
i have tickets to the first screening of the new Star Wars movie for the first show in South Africa this coming Wednesday and i just won a James Bond Spectre razor by sending the winning tweet in a competition. i also won tickets to the Premier of the last of the Hobbit movies at the Imax and an LG smart phone worth more than 500 dollars [all Twitterer].
i have experimented in the kitchen [mostly successfuly] and discovered a fudge i am pretty good at making [Thanks Debbie Knighton-Fitt]. I have learned a LOT of new board games [and bought a few] largely thanks to the crew at Wizards games shop and also my brother-in-law Carl and his friend Nick.
i have taken time to appreciate some INCREDIBLE FRIENDS that i have in my life as well as a most BEAUTIFUL and AMAZING wife and have tried not to take any of them for granted. I am so WEALTHY in that alone and it is the people in my life who continue to help me to soar and grow and build and persevere and challenge and run for another day.
FAITHFUL IN SERVING HIM
And then there is God. My nickname stands for ‘Faithful In Serving Him’ and i continue to try to be. i am trying to figure out what church looks like for me and mine. i am spending a lot more time in prayer than previous years and more lately just a lot of time asking God to reveal Himself to me again. i have camped out in Isaiah and the Gospels and in particular Isaiah 61 and i wrestle pretty much daily with how that relates to me and Val and where and how we live and the purpose of the church both inside and outside its walls and on the streets.
61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the Lord,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.
8 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.
And i continue to hold so tightly to the words of the father of the demon-possessed son in Mark:
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
i believe there is a God. i believe He loves us. i don’t believe He is not involved in our day to day affairs, nor do i believe He tightly controls them. There is a measure of free will and the invitation to use it to seek out and live His kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven. i believe that true fulfilment in life is only to be found in Jesus Christ and i believe that by following Him, He continues to bring out the best in me and help shape me into the best me i can be. i long for others to realise this more and live it out more authentically in their day to day lives. But i also long to get it more right myself. The daily wrestling of waking up and choosing this day to serve God, to take up my cross and follow Him. i know of no better way.
Those are some of my thoughts and reflections and activities from 2015. i’m sure i have left out a whole bunch of key ones – it is not an exhaustive list. But lots to celebrate, some to mourn, much to be challenged by and the determination to continue to do my best to live out life to its absolute fullest.
More than 65000 people visited my blog throughout the year and the top three most popular posts were:
Bring on 2016 [although there is still a Star Wars and some Hashtagging games and some Deep Dive Conversations and some visiting housemates from Oakland and some Christmas and New Year’s celebration and i’m sure some chocolate to be melted before then]
i’m brett fish anderson and this was my year.
Oh, and i was a Butler at a Murder Mystery Party…