Monday, January 01, 2007

2006: Thoughts

New year's day, and I'm feeling that typical urge to attempt to sum up the last year or so, and to place it into some sort of perspective. But I've been trying to get the words together for about half and hour, and it just ain't happening. Odd, that. So, I'll just go with some observations and see where they take me.

For me, this past year has been ... significant. That's the only word that really sums up my experiences in 2006. This was a year with weight, heft, and substance. 2006 really mattered.

There was some pain and loss. Losing Princess and Tom in the space of a single week was unspeakably horrid. And we had many challenges here at home, particularly in regard to my kids and their ADD/ADHD issues. This wasn't an easy year. But on the whole, it was a good one. Our family came through it in one piece, and we're a solid and strong and loving unit. I love my wife and my children so much it makes my heart ache, and I am so very, very blessed to have them.

The most obvious thing that defined 2006 for me is that it was the first year of my Tang Soo Do training, and I find I can't quite express just how much training has affected my life, inwardly and outwardly. Simply put, I feel more alive than I have in years. And it's not that I was unhappy or miserable before I started training. Instead I think that, somewhere in the course of getting a career and becoming a father, I forgot that my own life can be a work in progress. That who and what I am now, at 39, is not necessarily all that I can ever be. Tang Soo Do has reminded me of this, and it's difficult to explain how big a deal that is. It sounds like a simple thing, and I suppose from the outside looking in it is. But for me, this was something of a profound realization. Or perhaps a reawakening.

The results of this have been permeating all sorts of aspects of my life in unexpected ways. The most immediate and obvious effects are social: I feel more sure of myself socially than I have in years. I've found myself opening up and building friendships in a manner that I haven't been able to since college. I've made great strides in ignoring the self-doubt that used to run rampant over me on a regular basis. Prior to beginning training, I doubt I could have made the trek to Chicago for Adrianne's memorial celebration, and I certainly wouldn't have done it alone. I would have made excuses and come up with very good and sturdy reasons to not go, thereby avoiding any discomfort whatsoever. Instead I made my stressed-out ass go, and as a result enjoyed a weekend with some of the most fascinating, unique and enjoyable people I've ever met.

Without training, this would never have occured. I'm certain of that.

And while some folks still say I really need to relax, I know that I've already come a long way on that front. While I may be a bit twitchy and tense on the mat, I'm way more relaxed and confident and open to just enjoying myself while training than I was in the first few months. Shin chook remains my biggest obstacle, and I often wonder whether I will ever be able to really and truly just relax, on or off the mat. I simply don't understand how to do it. I know I'm tense, I know how it feels to be relaxed, but the idea of relaxing while actively engaged in something (even something I enjoy) eludes me. In my head, I equate relaxation with passivity and rest, not with activity. So shin chook is an ongoing lesson, but I'm making progress.

Training has also helped me to adjust my perspective on my career. My career is just fine. It's not terribly meaningful or "fulfilling" these days, but I don't really expect it to be those things anymore. It provides a good living and keeps me busy, but doesn't really define me in any way. I think that's a healthy attitude to have toward a job. And I suppose that's a development, a change. I used to live and breathe my job, and it was eating me up. This is no longer the case, and that's a really good thing.

So, yes. 2006 was a year that really mattered for me. The usual superlatives don't really apply. It wasn't a "great" year or an "awful" year, although it had great parts and awful parts. But one thing is certain: For the first time I can remember, I feel like I really used Every Little Bit of the time I had in this year, and used it well. I spent 12 months consuming my time here on Earth with great big gluttonous bites. It was hard, sometimes exhausting, often painful. But looking back over the year I know I didn't waste a second of it. This is the first year in a while where I know, without question, that I lived each and every moment as fully as I could. And if that's not the definition of a good year, then I don't really know what is.

So, in closing, a quotation. At Adrianne's memorial celebration, Alan noted that one of Adrianne's favorite phrases, and the one by which she built so much of her world view and approach to life, was this bit from Auntie Mame:
"Live! Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death."
I think that sums up 2006 for me. And that ain't too shabby. God willing, 2007 will hold more of the same for me, and I hope that it holds the same promise for you as well.

Mood: Sleepy, but happy
Now Playing: Nothing

No comments: