"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." - Neil GaimanOn December 31, 2009, I found myself sitting next to Lex in Symphony Hall watching the Boston Pops perform with one of our favorite musician's, Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls, as the featured artist of the evening. We had recently found-out that Lex was pregnant with our second child, so this New Year met us with all the anxiety and hope for the future that is requisite for all expectant parents. It ended-up being one of the most amazing spectacles we had ever witnessed, with fabulous performances all around! After the clock struck 12 and the chorus of "Auld Lang Syne" trailed-off into the evening, streamers launched, balloons dropped and popped, and Amanda introduced Neil Gaiman as her new fiance' (apparently he had proposed to her earlier that day). He then gave a powerfully moving benediction which included what I quoted above.
Neil's performance was the one performance that stuck with me through the year. It still resonates with every new milestone, and every transformation that I realize in my personal, professional and running lives. You see, I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions. I never have. After all, much like rules, in my life, resolutions are made to be broken. I prefer to make commitments to myself. The one commitment that I made for 2010 was to surprise myself. I'd say I accomplished that in spades.
So, I've been struggling for over a week to write a "year in review" or retrospective blog post. Then I found I would also have to write a post about my goals for the year, etc. I've written and re-written this in my head as well as on the 'puter too many times to count. Once, I actually sat down and got going on the retrospective and realized it was an exercise in futility. Not only was it futile because it was such and eventful and transformative year for me that it would likely have been the World's longest blog post, but I also realized that that type of writing just isn't me. I almost got sucked into the trap of "this is what you should do" as a blogger. "Everyone else does it." I told myself. If you're a blogger it almost seems that your readers expect it of you. But if you regularly read this blog (as irregularly as I write it), you know I am not about doing what is expected of me. In fact, if I believe something is expected of me, I'll go out of my way to do exactly the opposite.
It's not that I am not capable of self-analysis, introspection or goal-setting. In fact, because of running I feel like I live each day in a state in which I am constantly doing these things. Every run I gain perspective. Through running I've learned a lot about myself and about life. As cliche' as it sounds I've learned that I truly can accomplish anything I put my mind too. And that's saying something for the fat kid that never saw a challenge he didn't back down from. However, running has helped me to realize that to put my mind to something I need to work hard to keep it in focus. I need to set goals and reassess those goals on a monthly, daily, hourly and even minute-to-minute basis. Goals need to be mutable, not fixed in order to keep charging forward, otherwise it's just too easy to rest on your laurels once a goal is reached. In other words in order to keep improving, I have to move the goalposts.
2010 was a year of huge accomplishments, growth and surprises. It was also a year full of sadness, disappointment and death. In other words it was a real roller-coaster that was at times exhilarating and really sucked at other times. But you know what was the most important thing about 2010? Experience. And that I wouldn't change for anything. Sure, I could've done without some of the experiences, but I wouldn't have learned and moved forward. It saddened me on New Years Eve to see all of the posts on facebook and twitter cursing the year and hoping for a better year in 2011. **Newsflash** It wasn't the year's fault it was yours! You decide what to make of every situation. You decide how to react and respond to everything. In other words, you make everything happen either by your actions or inaction. In order to truly have hope, you have to be willing to take decisive action.
There is no tomorrow! Get out there and make things happen, today! Live in the moment. Be present in what's happening right now. Don't sit idly by and let things happen. Make the most of every opportunity. If there is the possibility that you are going to fail, then just go for it and fail epically! The bigger the failure, the larger and more important the lesson is. The bigger the lesson, the bigger the success! This is how I plan on approaching 2011. It is my sincere hope that all of you will too. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. I know I will....