You don’t need me to tell you that 2016 has been a year of enormous political change. And I do not think that on New Year’s Eve you want to be reminded of any of the new words and names that have captured our news headlines in the last twelve months?

And all the while, when many of us have been looking inward trying to reconnect with some notion of freedom and independence, a new craze has emerged here in Belgium; It might appear insignificant in the global reasoning but I find it none the less worth mentioning in my last blog and newsletter of 2016.

‘Escape Rooms’ have been springing up all over Belgium. The concept is, should you not know it, that a group of you are locked into a confined space with the object of trying to escape within one hour.  Usually there is a theme and hidden within the room are a number of clues, locks and puzzles that need to be solved in order to open the door.  To succeed the inhabitants must work efficiently together. Delegating challenges and utilizing skills while trying not to spend too long on any one item.  If one person cannot figure something out, then someone else has to take over until the particular puzzle is solved.  But no sooner than you think that you have escaped you often find yourself in yet another room with more clues and you then realize that you have no idea how many more there will be. Remind you of something?

With hidden keys under carpets, or combination locks whose secretes are measured out by seemingly disconnected items, this new craze has captured my imagination. The efficiency with which the team I was in worked well.  Our individual skills were quickly put to good use, and although we needed some clues, we managed to escape on time, before the bomb went off so as to speak.

Much of 2016 has lead me to reflect on where I might escape to and indeed what from. And regardless of whatever 2017 may throw at me, I know that only by working together with others will I ever have any chance of success.  Because, assuming you see my concept of life as a series of escape room type challenges from which we learn and move on, you have to admit that right now the rules are becoming extremely unclear and the objective – the big why – is somehow becoming lost. And perhaps that’s not such a bad thing in an unexpected way?

To close, I am genuinely looking forward to 2017. I hope you are too? I know in some countries you still have a few weeks to wait but for me, here in Belgium, everything changes at midnight. Nothing in the morning will be the same as it was today. Everything is there to be seen in a new light, with new optimism and with a new approach.

Happy New Year’s eve,

Harley