As 2019 ends and I reflect on the last 12 months, certain thoughts come starkly into focus Bizarrely it was an incident a few days ago that got me thinking.

Around 8 am one morning, I drew back the curtains on the patio doors onto the back garden. What I saw in that instant was a life story encapsulated in a split second. At the bottom of our suburban garden is a small pond.

The pond itself is amazing.

A neighbour Rob, and client (we settled his house fire claim some time ago) created it for us several years ago. It’s a natural pond with no pump, just oxygenating plants and some stones to make it look attractive.

In it, we had around half a dozen beautiful multi-colored Shubunkin Goldfish. They never need feeding due to the wildlife that has been attracted to the pond over the years. It’s been wonderful to see how the pond has developed over the seasons. In the summer we get the most stunning Dragonflies.

As I peered towards the pond, I saw the most beautiful Heron, its beak sunk deep into the water. I quickly opened the door and ran outside. The Heron heard me and with a quick pounding of its enormous wings took flight.

I knew what I would find. Or rather what I wouldn’t.

The pond was empty of fish. Nothing. Nada. I was gutted. We used to have netting to protect the fish but recently took it away with the intention of replacing it. We never got around to it. Don’t ask. It’s not like we live out in the country. We live in NW London suburbia. So, although I knew there was a risk of Heron attack, I never truly believed we were at risk. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Well, we wanted a natural habitat in our garden and that is exactly what we got. I suppose there is a beautiful sort of symmetry to this. The old circle of life in stark reality. The fish had no chance. The heron has lighting quick reflexes and incredible binocular eyesight, way more focused than our own.

Each morning now as I walk to my garden office, I look in the pond for signs of life. Maybe one of the fish is hiding, shivering in a shaded spot under a lily pad. Fat chance. The Heron is a master.

You may recall, back in September my beautiful daughter Rosie emigrated to Israel to start a new life for herself. Aside from some early accommodation issues, she has settled in really well. She now shares a wonderful modern flat with two others, a mere stone throw from the beach. She loves her new job.

Plus, it seems she may have found true love – well that was sooner than expected, I guess. We all miss her so much. I can’t wait to visit her in January. But she saw an opportunity to improve her life and took it. No messing.

So, what are the lessons learned?

Well, they are not new lessons. But then there is nothing new under the sun I suppose. The world keeps turning. We’ve shared births, deaths (some tragic), illnesses, and marriages this year. I’ve tried to be the best I can be in all facets of my life. Husband, father, son, brother. In business. With my clients. In my newfound passion as a podcaster.

The lessons I take from 2019 are simple. We should all strive to do our utmost in all aspects of our lives, each and every waking moment. Like the goldfish, we never know when our time is up. Memento Mori. Like my daughter Rosie, seek out and grab opportunities when they present themselves.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and healthy and prosperous 2020.