Out with the old, in with the new.

Dear 2011,

You were worth every minute of every day and I’m glad I stayed awake for most of your hours. Thank you for everything.

love, light & trust,

Me.

It was a quick year in that all of a sudden it was nearing a close and jingles were being sung in anticipation of Christmas. Despite the maddening rush and the rate at which things sped up, I must admit that I’m more amazed by the amount of things that got accomplished this year. I’m used to measuring my days in terms of to do lists and I worry a lot–just because time seems to always run out. But if anything, this year has taught me that time is just a medium, it’s the happenings that count for the actual history we remember. That’s the marrow of life.

Naturally, I am grateful. These are the things I’ve learned in the past year:

  1. Stay rooted, remember but grow. I began last year with a deep and loyal love for family. Recalling memories and bearing witness to those I’ve come to know have always been recurring themes of my writing. Mostly, it has to do with those close to me and how I was raised by them but I’d like to think that beyond that, it has to do also with this constant need to stay firmly rooted so as to grow. This year, I was spared from attending as many funerals as the years past and while I’m grateful for this, I acknowledge that perhaps the purpose was to use the year to remember and to keep those I lost alive. But I cannot live in the past and truth be told, I always feel like the person I was a year ago is no longer the person I am today. To that I say, great! Move on, get growing.         
  2. Money won’t buy you a life and neither will working if the goal is just to earn money. If I could do without money and all it’s stress in my life then I would gladly shift to the old ways of bartering goods in exchange for what I need. But if that were so, it wouldn’t really make a difference, right? Because we’d be worrying still. Money is just a means to put value on things and whether we trade using actual currency or the currency of gestures, we’d still end up placing value on things and worrying about how much we ought to exchange. In that respect money might not be evil but this year, I nearly broke down trying to earn it. It was good in the beginning because work is close to the soul but as the days went by, I accumulated enough jobs to keep me at work longer than the usual 8 hours per day. FOR WHAT?! Sure, i bought a heckload of books and ate what I wanted to eat but for the most part, I gave up the one currency I needed to savor life, enjoy my food and read my books: time. You can’t buy love, I know but if I could I’d rather buy time. Sadly, that ain’t for sale either. So, I’m only working to earn what I need. Greed and the need for speed are no match for the joy of actual quality time with the ones who matter.  
  3. The answers can’t all be found in the books but the questions (which matter more) will only surface if you read and read and read. I spent most of the year reading. I’m very proud of this because truth be told, life would not be what it is if I hadn’t read to begin with. How many times does conversation get saved by that story we all read as children or that opinion shared by another which we can both disagree on or agree to disagree on? How much more exciting has it been to visit places carrying ones own eyes along with memories of others who have trod these paths before? It’s all written about and the world gains color through these stories. We just need to read and be present to it all. We also need to process which is why this blog was born in the first place.
  4. Mistakes are everything. Be surprised! You don’t really know what qualifies as a mistake until you realize it to be one but hey, whether it’s good or bad, it’s all a surprise, right? So step one ought to be, stop hating surprises! Life’s one giant surprise anyway. Step two would have to be, make mistakes happen by making actual decisions! I’ve put my foot down so many times this year, it’s been quite exhilarating. You just have to do it and if things turn out badly, well, get up and go. It’s worth it to have the scars, blisters and all.
  5. Adventure is just another way of saying YES! This is pretty close to my heart. I’ve spent so many years longing to go on adventures just to learn time and time and again that adventure just means saying yes more often. Have that conversation with a stranger, go out with your parents when they ask you,  make time to see friends, be open to having new ones. The benefits you reap are beyond that which you could have imagined. Stay in touch but most importantly, just say yes!
  6. Having dreams is a sign of continued trust in the universe. So, dream good! I’ve written about the things I hope for but only in the language of dreams. What do I want to do? Who do I want to be? Whose footsteps do I follow in these long and winding roads? But each of these questions lead to answers that have proven that 1) I’m happily alive and naturally curious and 2) I haven’t given up on the world just yet. Holy moly, that really makes a great big difference! When you look forward to life instead of cower in fear of it like I used to before. Sheesh. 
  7. No risk, no happiness. Just do it! It’s similar to saying yes but it’s a bit deeper in that for the most part, decisions involve risk which we can easily set aside for easier, less challenging options. Our goals eventually get watered down and we drown in the comfort of the familiar until it hits us that we’re lost at sea with no islands in sight–and I’ve been there, in the middle of the ocean. It’s quite frustrating to swim toward nothing, or to swim at all when what’s left is just the bottom. But risking and choosing to do what we must because of who we are is what will keep us afloat, alive and kicking! It’s also what will take us from our shores onto others and back, not quite the way we were when we had first leaped. Risk is everything so risk everything.
  8. You can’t teach/learn abstinence but you can be responsible. Personal, again but true for the most part. Risk doesn’t mean stupidity and abstinence isn’t the answer to all of life’s problems. Just that because…
  9. Have mentors and learn to appreciate them for all their greatness (that’s firmly rooted in their humanity). The second part’s the more important part. I’ve had mentors but for the most part, people can let us down. We can also let others down and every year I battle constantly with the reality that i can’t seem to stop getting people to lose faith in me. But that’s part of life. Duality. You can only be great if you can fall every now and then because what is greatness anyway but another day of deciding to be better at things than we were yesterday? But faith in those who teach us well goes a long way and having people inspire us to be better versions of our true selves is worth more than the combined salary of all the shrink’s out there! Be inspired, find a mentor, be grateful, live fully. Repeat.
  10. We can’t always get what we want but we always get what we need. Like it or not, I might as well admit that sometimes I get very lonely. I think about all the things I could be doing and all the people I could be. I think about falling in love and why I’m not as adept as others at getting relationships right…all these insecurities and all these wants that are created by them keep haunting me. But when I really think about it, I may not get what I want but I always get what I need. When I could have been a research assistant, I worked at my former high school and learned how to appreciate students and live history instead of just reading it. When I could have been completely focused on my studies, I edited a magazine and tasted true accomplishment that came directly from hands-on experience. When I could have gotten my MA load done, I taught English, quit then went on an amazing two-week adventure living on a backpack and still smelling nice! That’s a real achievement (for me at least). And when I could have settled for lousy love, I opted to say no and wait. We might not be together with the one I want but we’re good friends and who knows if he’s the one? He may or may not be…what is best for him is best for me. The point is: this, where I am, this is what I need.

2011 being the year that it was remains one of the most memorable and rich years of my life. It was a good way to cap off the decade that just passed and it was a great invitation to jump-start a new one. So, yes! Here’s to this brave new year! And to all you dragons out there, let’s make these days count!   

 

 

 

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