From time to time when the task I've given myself, whether the rewarding one of accompanying a patient on their struggle to make meaning out of disorder or the challenging one, of trying personally to sort through the miscellany of political or social complexity, I'd need a break.
A place to recharge, a meditative space.
Mostly, I found one in the middle of a trout stream. Now that mobility closes that avenue, I'm still blessed by having art to contemplate.
My wife Susan, is an artist, and it's through her eyes that I get to appreciate more the beauty of the natural world, and the one that people create.
Of course, everyone needs and can use a break.
That's what's great about this period, the holidays, of Christmas and Hanukkah, the season that takes root in the miraculous and the enchantment of enduring light against the darkness.
What's best about having this period, time out of joint, is time to spend sharing with loved ones, family and friends over a meal or any excuse to be together.
It's the sharing that marks the specialness of the season. Still the miraculous remains, bonding us to our natural environment.
It's a bit miraculous that we humans are hurtling through space on this small blue planet, making it encumbent that we become better stewards of it, if only because there is no planet B.
While gathering to share in celebration, we express our relief at our endurance after this past fraught year.
Looking backward at 2019 is, to say the least, unsettling.
Offshore the shadow of Trump looms over trade and over the democratic institutions themselves, as the Republican-dominated Senate prepares to shred constitutional safeguards put in place in 1789 to protect against tyranny.
The United Kingdom, having elected Boris Johnson and voted for Brexit may very soon be reduced to England and Wales. And that's only for starters.
We look back at the past year on our own shores and realise that we've come through sadness and loss, whether through premeditated villainy as in Christchurch, or accident as in Whakaari/White Island.
Those tragic losses touch all of us, as the PM expressed it, simultaneously painful and bringing out the best in our fellow New Zealanders.
One compensation is that those tragedies brought us all together in no small measure due to the behaviour of our PM who reminded us not only with words but with actions and demeanor that we are a nation of many parts, but united in our ability to care for one another despite our differences when it counts.
Jacinda Ardern is like any New Zealander.
She's not perfect but in representing us before the world both in tough times or when a light touch is called for - at the UN or with Stephen Colbert - she does us proud.
These days, when other countries' leaders are reviled or ridiculed or feared , that's saying a lot.
Mourning over our losses in common as a nation, also brings back to mind those close to home whom we've lost as individuals, they're now missing from our festive table.
These personal losses of friends or family remind us to hold each other closer while we live, and not to wait until it's too late, to let those we love know just how much they mean to us, now, and not only in later eulogy.
We need also to remember those among us whose Christmas is spent in need, of housing or of food, by giving generously to those who live tougher lives.
Personally, I'm feel extraordinarily lucky, to live in this most beautiful city in relative safety.
I'm looking forward to celebrating, together with Susan and friends.
And to the respite of two weeks off. This is my last column for 2019. I plan to be back on January 10, 2020, hoping for a better year with renewed vigour. Meantime, happy Christmas and a very merry new year.
•Jay Kuten is an American-trained forensic psychiatrist who emigrated to New Zealand for the fly fishing. He spent 40 years comforting the afflicted and intends to spend the rest afflicting the comfortable.