Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflections on '08

I suppose it's pretty common for most of us to consider the past year on the day before the New Year begins, and I'm no different.

2008 was a year of tremendous change for me. I learned a lot of lessons, and made a lot of changes. My outlook on life, love, and happiness seems to be light-years ahead of where I started at the beginning of the year, and in many ways, I'm a lot more "grown-up" now than I was back then.

Some of those lessons were excruciatingly painful, and if I had the ability, I would have tried to avoid them. But life doesn't work that way. The lessons come when they come, and we can only choose between doing the work right then, or putting it off for a short time. Once a lesson has been added to our assignments, we cannot avoid it entirely, it just has to be done. And now that I've finished that work, learned my lessons, I feel a whole lot better about myself - my ability to deal with almost anything that life can dish out - I now know, that I can withstand a lot more than I thought I could.

One of my friends says that the number "9" signifies completion, and that 2009 will be a year when lots of things that are currently in transition will finally be resolved. I've been focusing on that thought quite a bit over the last few days. What if completion means failure? What if completion means loss? To be sure, constant uncertainty is a tough way to live one's life, but uncertainty carries with it a small hope of a successful outcome. Would I truly be happier to know for sure that there is no chance of receiving what I want, versus hoping, but never knowing for sure?

I've sought within myself, and the answer that I hear back is "yes".

Yes, at this point in my life, I would rather move forward with knowledge of where I stand in this world, good or bad, positive or negative, loved or disliked, cherished or despised. (I am asking the questions, and I am ready for whatever answers may come.) Will I get my promotion in 2009? Will I find true love? Will I make a difference in the world? Have I raised a son who is able to stand on his own and be a well-adjusted and successful member of society?

It is not without fear that I ask these brazen questions. But as I've said before, real courage is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to continue to do the right thing in spite of one's fear. And so I courageously move forward, trying to live my life with honor, asking only for truth, giving only what I hope to receive. My greatest wish is that if the cards are stacked against me, if I am not going to receive the answers that I hoped for, that the answers come swiftly and sweetly, with compassion.

One of the most important decisions that I made for myself in 2008 was to "stop waiting". For the longest time, I was waiting for the right opportunity at work, for the right partner to share my life with, for the right time to speak up, for a bigger paycheck, for a break from parenting. I was putting off many of the things that I really wanted to do, things that were important to me as a person. Sometime in 2008, that switch got flipped. I fixed that.

I like to volunteer my time to charitable work. I did that - I did a lot of that. Though it would have been nice to do that "with" someone else, it was still very rewarding, and very fulfilling, to do it alone.

I like to write, I like to sing, I like to dance. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at any of those things, but I enjoy doing it. So this year, I joined a writer's group and started taking dance lessons (singing lessons will have to wait until another time). Sure, I have a long way to go before I can proudly refer to myself as a dancer or a writer, but I STARTED something. I did it for myself, nobody else, and I'm very proud of that fact.

In 2009, I will learn how to sail a boat. (I already found an instructor, and I'm looking forward to better weather, so we can get started on the first lessons!) I want to learn to ride a horse - not just sitting on a trail horse, but actually riding one, getting it to go where I want to go - having the freedom to ride anywhere we want to. (Maybe I'll get a tattoo. Who knows?)

My eyes are getting dimmer, my legs are getting weaker, and my hair is getting thinner. Some of my friends have died, others have had their lives turned upside-down, and so they are starting everything over again. Statistically, I've almost reached the halfway point in my life, and I want to make some changes in the next half.

It's no secret, I've lived the majority of my life taking care of other people. Seems like I've been more concerned about everyone else's happiness than I was in finding my own happiness. I was always putting myself last, waiting patiently for "my turn" to come. Heck, I didn't even know what I wanted, because I didn't want to think about myself. It was all about other people, not me. That part of me has changed, too.

In 2008, I charted a different course. I am starting to live a life where my own wants and desires have become part of my plan. Not exclusively, mind you. Not to the point where I think only about myself and nobody else, but I am now to the point where I look at my own needs and desires, and I weigh them equally (just as important, as other people's needs and desires). And that, my friends, is a tremendous accomplishment for me - a huge step forward in my personal development. I am starting to think of myself as somebody worth caring about.

I look forward to 2009.
The year of completion.

I love you all.
Thank you for being part of my life.

Now let's do this!
-Doug-

1 comment:

me. said...

I don't know what to do with you.