A birthday, much like a new year, is a time to take stock. A time to consider the previous year, the high-points, the low-points and the things you wished you could have done differently. A birthday is even weightier to me as it is a countdown to life, or a count-“up” if you would. It is definitive and it marks the years that I have had been on this planet and the higher the number gets it is reasonable to assume that the remaining years shrink. A new year by contrast seems cyclical and happens again and again so long as we are alive.
I am not saying that my logic makes any sense to any rational person, but it is how I process the yearly remembrance of my birth. The last twelve months have included frustration, striving, failures and unfulfilled dreams. However, those are simply moments in a year. There have also been times of great successes, improvements and tangible evidence of what happens when I focus on improvement.
One year ago, I was 50 pounds heavier, out of shape, and frustrated with my physical appearance. It took this frustration and the realization that only I could choose to change to that which I knew needed to change. I wish I could say that this moment worked with the efficiency of a light switch and that somehow everything was magically on track in the moments after a decision to change was made. Quite the opposite is true. It was a daily battle, a grind, a moment to moment decision as to whether or not I was more resolved to change or simply resolved to the idea of change.
I took the appropriate steps; I hired a great fitness and nutrition coach, changed my daily routines and habits and set realistic, measurable goals. I was willing to acknowledge there was a process, I learned the process and then I followed the process relentlessly. In the end there was some measure of success. Yet, it was not this success that I was seeking.
This year taught me that it was actually the journey that I was desiring. The change that happened within me on the path that I was walking. The beautiful vistas and moments of pause that feel like success were in a way satisfying, but only so much as a cool drink of water invigorates you on a scorching summer day. The momentary respite is amazing, but it is not the end of the activity, in fact it is often only the beginning.
So today, I sit down and take stock. Journal in hand, coffee nearby and memories and goals flooding my mind. I think about the frustration of trying to turn what my Accountant keeps insisting is a hobby into a business. I think about the goals I had for last year that went unfulfilled and in some ways feel like they are several mountain ranges away. However, in that moment when each of us wants to turn inward and listen to the internal voices that say that achieving dreams is not for me. The voices that scream, maybe I don’t have what it takes.
In those moments, I see the slightly overgrown, winding, dusty path that invites me on the journey. The path is never easy. There will be rocks, ledges, crevices, and danger. There will be days where the darkness of the valley shadows the mountain peaks to where I begin to believe the path only slopes downward into oblivion. However, the lessons of this last year will stick with me. The path does not only go down, it goes up as well. I long for the days that just a peek through the thick underbrush will reveal the majesty of the surrounding range.
The lesson I had to accept was to enjoy the journey for all of its glory, both positive and negative. This lesson will be the overarching theme for my coming year. I hope for you as well that if there is something you desire, a change you seek that seems only elusive at this moment. I hope you will see the journey for what it is, but more importantly for who you will become. It may seem cliche, but as I look back at the areas of my life where I have achieved some measure of success, it has always come from staying on the path and welcoming the expedition.
Here is to another great year!