A Look Back at 2015 and a Wish for 2016

                As 2015 comes to a close, I feel the need to recap the year.  Every year is a big one, and especially the last few have been fairly trans-formative for me.  The past 12 months though, I feel like I’ve taken personal steps that 2, 3, 4 …8, or even 9 years ago, I would never have believed possible.  So here’s a quick recap of a few of the changes I’ve made over the last year…

     First and foremost, as the year closes out, I feel I’ve gotten to the point where I can talk about the steps I’ve taken and the growth that I’ve made over the last few years.  I can tell people about all of it when they ask, without being horribly uncomfortable.

     During my third annual pilgrimage through Oregon and Washington for the Sasquatch Music Festival, I rediscovered some of my independence.  For the previous two years that early summer vacation had been about finding a community or a summertime love story, and those trips were great!  However, this time I repeatedly went off on my own and found that I could have just as great a time all by myself in a sea of strangers, if need be.

                I’ve realized that we are each responsible not only for our strengths but also for our flaws.  We are made into who we are by our failures just as we are by our successes; and to attempt to hide one or the other is to head down a dangerous path that leads us to force ourselves to be someone that we’re not.  My life is more enjoyable when I accept the bad with the good and find a balance.

                As a continuation of the statement above, I believe that in order to truly love yourself, you have to cherish your flaws just as much as your strengths.  Likewise, those people that love us the most love us because of our flaws, not despite them. 

                In 2015, through a series of revelations and realizations, I seem to have stumbled into a secure state of self-esteem that I can safely say I’ve never had before.  I’m looking forward to exploring this new found confidence.

     Now, to this point, this post has been all about me, but 2015 was a big year for a lot of people.  So let’s take a quick look back at the things that we covered and/or learned in the past year.

                Our 2015 began with a lesson in love.  It’s a lesson that I hope we all learn again and again throughout our lives.  While there are plenty of potential goals to reach for as we progress through life, there may not be any more important than love.

                Our imaginations are potentially boundless, but we have to use them in order for them to become so.  Never let your imagination go to waste… daydream, drift off, get lost in your own little world and when you come back from your journeys, maybe you will have learned something that will help you in this big world that we all share.

                Don’t underestimate sports as a vehicle for cultural change.  They may take quite a while to get momentum and bring about the change they need to.  But once they build up that momentum, they’re nearly unstoppable

     Blue and black can apparently look exactly like white and gold

                Over the last 12 months, the esteemed Shounak Bagchi has helped teach us some lessons as well, the first of which is that diversity in our lives is a commodity that we seem to be pulling back from, to our own detriment.  Therefore, on his behalf, I would like to challenge each of my readers, and myself, to befriend someone new in 2016… someone from a different culture, background, race, religion, political affiliation, anything.  Expand your horizons, learn new things, and appreciate differences.

                We learned that Tom Durham still has an impeccable ability to summarize my thoughts into a few perfectly succinct sentences… 

                In 2015 we lost one of the great literary minds of our time.  Terry Pratchett’s writing isn’t quite as popular in the US as it is in the rest of the world, but that doesn’t change the fact that he spent his life taking the world as it is and shaping it into a funhouse mirror that we could all stand in front of to laugh at ourselves.  Hopefully the hundreds of lessons that he learned and shared with the world will spread. 

                Much like an American Terry Pratchett on Television, Jon Stewart (and those that have followed in his footsteps) showed us that humor can be an incredibly effective tool for cultural change and education.

                The world found out that Drake should not seek a career in interpretive dance.  

     Next we were treated to a couple more lessons from the esteemed Monsieur Shounak Bagchi.  The first being that television has changed drastically over the years, and that this just may be the golden age of storytelling.  

     The other lesson was that we, as a society, have allowed the quality of our apologies to fall into disrepair; and that it may be a large contributing factor to the sorry state of our political system as well as our own personal relationships.  We have to truly mean it when we say “sorry” and remember that actions speak louder than words. 

     Toward the end of the year, we hopefully were reminded that the lessons we were taught as children and have subsequently forgotten are just as important today as they were the day we learned them, if not more so.  Coming together and making an effort to understand and help those that are different from ourselves could be the most essential step we can take to make this world a little better. 

                In 2015 we learned that the universe, and even just the solar system, is an amazing and thrilling place that supplies us with thousands of new mysteries every time we solve one. 

                We discovered that some media franchises are able to make an entire fan base lose their minds with one simple announcement… 


                To close out this post and this year, I’m not making any new year’s resolutions.  After all, life will continue to happen to me, and the only goal that’s worth setting is to enjoy that life in every way possible as it happens.

                I will however, make a wish.  (I got the idea from Neil Gaiman… 

                I hope you smile every day.  A big, face-creasing, wrinkle-causing, goofy-looking, eye-watering smile.

                I hope you cry.  Whether from joy, sorrow, beauty, or love; I hope you feel something so deeply that you’re moved to tears, and I hope that it happens more often than you want to admit.

                I hope you learn new things.  Maybe you’ll learn trivial facts (did you know that Winston Churchill’s mother was from Brooklyn?), and hopefully you’ll also learn things that change the way you see the world around you.

                I hope you get lost in thought.  Let your mind wander to faraway places and explore the farthest reaches of your imagination.  When you snap back to reality, bring something back with you.

                I hope, that just once in the next year, everything falls apart… your plans, your hopes, your dreams, everything.  And in that moment, you see something new.  I don’t know what that something will be, but make sure that you’re open to it, because it will be beautiful, and it just might change your world.

                I hope that something scares you.  I hope you feel that gut-wrenching, deer-in-the-headlights, paralyzing fear, and that you let it in.  Embrace your fear, because only when we’re afraid can we truly be brave, and only when we're brave can we reach the goals we want the most.  So do things that scare you, find your bravery, and reach your goals.

                I hope you stop and admire something beautiful; not once, but every day.  Maybe it’ll be the sunset as you drive home from work, perhaps it will be the architecture in a city that you’re visiting, or the face of the person you love as they wake up in the morning.  No matter what you choose to admire, beauty surrounds us constantly, so take the time to appreciate it, and know that it can be found in the most unlikely of places.

                Lastly, and most importantly, I hope you love someone and that you find/spend time with someone who loves you in return.

                Happy New Year, I’ll see you in 2016.