You’ve made it to your 26th birthday without winding up dead, pregnant, or in jail – congratulations! As your friend Joel once told you, and you have now adopted as your occasional motto, “It could be worse.” Ah, the negative spin on a positive idea… you have always excelled at such sentiments.
So much has happened since your 25th birthday one year ago. Most significantly, you packed up your little Honda and left your beloved home in Seattle. Even though you were excited for the adventure ahead and put on a brave and buoyant front, you were terrified. The unknown has always been an uncomfortable place for you, and when you left Seattle in September of 2007, you had absolutely no way of knowing what the impending months would hold.
Little did you know, the coming year was going to rule.
You drove through 30 states. You climbed some Rocky Mountains. You saw old friends, and met new ones. You snarfled your nephews. You charmed a snake on the streets of Austin. You attended various weddings and parties. You ran a 5K. You sat in the cockpit of a Navy plane. You saw both the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. You ate Lebanese food in Washington, D.C., and cheeseburgers in Alabama, and tapas in Boston, and seafood on an island off the coast of South Carolina. You gained weight. You lost weight. You gained weight. You lost weight. Get used to it. You saw the Appalachian Mountains. You crunched through crimson and orange and golden leaves. You saw “The Lion King” on Broadway. You wrote songs. You sang. You navigated the New York subway. You hailed a cab. You planted yourself in an unknown city. You talked to strangers. You found an apartment. You rounded up an entire household’s worth of furniture. You found a job. You quit the job. You found another job. You chopped off all your hair. You earned frequent flyer miles. You established a routine. You killed the cockroaches. You caught the fireflies. You read books. You recorded some demos. You started playing shows. You met huge country stars. You met ex-convicts. You explored. You tried. You experienced.
Of course, it wasn’t easy. You cried more tears in the past 12 months than you have ever cried before. A dog barfed on the backseat of your car, and on hot days, the smell still lingers. You had your heart beaten up a couple of times. You experienced true mortification and embarrassment. You hurt people. You had no expendable income. You walked through life’s nightmares with friends. You battled depression like never before. You were disappointed. You were let down. You felt lonely. You felt ugly. You felt afraid.
But through God’s grace, you made it to this point. Now, as you look ahead at the coming year, you are faced with the same uncertainty you had a year ago. Where is this all leading? What’s the purpose? What’s going to happen? Why are you here – in this job, in this situation, in this city, in this world, in this life?
But Self, I am learning that I don’t think we ever really get the answers to those questions. We just keep walking, and keep moving, and keep living. This year, I hope you’ll ask less and listen more. Keep your sense of wonder. But don’t worry, or agonize, or work yourself into a tizzy. There is a purpose for it all, even if you never see it.
You are young. You have so much to learn. However, 26 years and 100 years are exactly the same, depending on how long you’ve lived – so embrace today as a marker of how far you’ve come. Today, you break your own record of “most consecutive days lived” – so go ahead and break your alcohol fast already! Especially because this weekend, this man: