The sun is setting on 31 years of my life.
"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can."
According to my calculations, I've clocked-in over 978 million seconds on this planet. Most of that time has been spent here, in Salt Lake City. Compared to many lives in the wider world, I have enjoyed a relatively charmed existence. My family chose this place for our home, and I have been lucky enough to cross paths with some fantastic people throughout my life here. I will visit with some of my friends (and hopefully my cousin) in a month, when I visit New Jersey and New York. Shortly afterward, I will be making my new home in a place called Nyakibale.
Because I've dreamed some pretty big dreams throughout my life, I have both feasted and bled. It's a given that the longer a person lives, the more that person will lose, despite all of their gains. As the seconds add up on my bill, I pay closer attention to how they are spent. If time is neglected, it can become a great burden. If I lose sleep, it is over what I can do and haven't yet, rather than over what I couldn't or can't. Now is the time for me to do what I can to promote health in rural Uganda.
In my eyes, there is a global shortage of compassion. Cruelty is just a manifestation of cowardice; and so perhaps the best way to deal with cruelty around and within us is to be courageous and encourage it in others. Part of this requires forgiving those who we believe have been cruel to us. There is no grace or honor in spite for choices others have made in a milieu of personality and circumstance. It does not serve a person's soul to be unmerciful. A corrupted heart cannot know love. And the moments of life worth all the rest are often those when we know love better than we understand it. I'm not certain that I ever will understand it. But perhaps that's the point.
My father taught me that I am the master of my reaction to the actions and words of others. Many times I have been tested: people have judged me; used me; abused me; and abandoned me. I have been victimized, but I am not a victim. Despite my best intentions, I unfortunately must admit that I have committed offenses as well. And although I've had to let some people out of my life and leave others, I won't give up on myself. To forfeit self-respect is not an option on my table. I refuse to do it. And although I know we all need each other to some degree, every day I'm learning to live with me; because that's the only person who's guaranteed to be there for every second of victory and defeat. Both usually come with some pain. And pain must be experienced in order to master the art of healing.
Today's weather is our lot, but many other circumstances are not. There will be rain, sleet, and snow; there will be thunder and lightning; there will be hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes all exacting their toll at some point. Sometimes it will be enough to knock us to the ground. We may get desperate and reckless, seeking shelter in our own personal hell. The suffering and self-pity found at the end of that road can too easily be dismissed as a final destination. But we must never forget that failure is just the base camp of another peak. And there is always another peak. And to get there, we must come down. Those of us who seek our own might will rise again: no matter how long it takes or how much easier it seems to stay down, we will triumph if it becomes as necessary as air, water, or food.
We could be carried by the wind or choose to live life on our own terms. Sometimes our choices still cannot guarantee a legacy that does not rely on the charity of history. Character, in my mind, comes from integrity and wisdom. I aim to be a person of integrity: to be true to myself before I make promises that others expect me to keep. It's not a question of whether to play this game: but rather how, and when, and with whom to play it. Every moment is filled with opportunity; it is folly to hold back a burning soul. On the contrary, by moving forward we can empower others to surge beside us, until we have nothing left but a momentum carrying us into the great beyond. I have learned about limits in the world and in the mind. And I know that both of these realms have demonstrated such limits are not set in stone.
There will always be a place in my heart for the Wasatch, the Uintahs, Zion, and memories made in such places across the span of three decades. Indelible are the snow-capped peaks reflecting a full winter moon and the melting tar of wide roads during dry summers. It may seem strange how fond a person can become for such ruggedness. But there is a beauty woven throughout it that can't be denied. No matter how long my departure from this place will be, I know my experiences in Utah are stitched into my scars and buried in my wrinkles. Absence supposedly makes the heart grow fonder. However, I think that is only one of many possibilities for a heart that spreads its wings.
"Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
From this blanket of darkness, the sun will rise again.
As usual, in lieu of presents for my birthday, I ask that those interested please re-direct your generosity. Although in a sense I will be working for this organization, the funds you donate will go toward a program that desperately needs funds in the operating budget. If interested, you may follow this link to donate and learn more about GECC:
Thank you to everyone who has touched my life. I hope that I've been able to give you something worthwhile in return.
Peace and happy holidays.