2016. So many have said it was a lamentable year. No matter what side of the coin you are on, it seems that we have all grown tired of negative rhetoric and pessimism. However, I can truthfully say that I have learned so much from this “less than perfect; very UnHallmark, don’t post that on Facebook” year.
Life, it turns out, is pretty unpredictable and often uncomfortable and difficult. When did we begin to believe that everything is perfect? When did we begin to believe our problems could be solved in the matter of days – let alone at all?
You might be thinking, “Jeez, you’ve been traveling the world – away from all this political hoopla. What do you know about ‘less than perfect’”? And, you are likely correct in your thinking. My “less than perfect” has been very different from my U.S. friends and family. And while I have been 7000 miles from the circus, this past year has given me the opportunity to become more reflective and, I hope, compassionate about “being human.”
Lessons Learned in 2016:
Nothing lasts forever…and that’s o.k. Rick spent the first several months of 2016 helping to sell his father’s home. Nearly 40 years of life and memories. Then, selling and moving out of our own family home of almost 20 years. Difficult? Yes. Regrets? A few. But, those chapters of our life built the foundation for the upcoming chapters. Our history can stifle or launch us.
Embrace fear. Leaving was by far the most difficult and scary thing I have ever done. Saying goodbye to our children. Rick quitting his job to create his own business. Buying a condo (how old am I?). Walking away from all that was familiar to a land unknown. Unbelievable guilt and worry.
And then I found that the fear turned to hard work. Living in the Thai culture as a distinct minority; getting sicker than a dog after eating “something”; total confusion in downtown Bangkok; giving the taxi driver a 1000 baht bill instead of a 50; constantly thinking ahead. Exhausting.
Finally, the hard work turned to excitement. Traveling to 9 different countries in 6 months; eating bugs that taste pretty good; Rick jamming at the local hang-out and making music on a daily basis; scuffling with aggressive monkeys; writing; exotic Wats; sublime beaches; Rick “forgetting” to get his hair cut.
Exhilarating and incredibly eye-opening. But, notice. I didn’t say ,“great” or “awesome.”
Reality is better than Facebook. The pictures and stories I post are just the shiny top of a deep and interesting experience. Like the view out of our Tacoma window, I can show you Mt. Rainier in all it’s glory and crop out the noise and traffic of Highway 16 traffic just below. Or, I can focus my lens on Highway 16 and crop out Mt. Rainier. My choice of perspective. But, in reality, life is both. It’s good, it’s beautiful, it’s bad, it’s ugly, it’s sad and disgusting. It’s everything. That’s what makes it great.
And, for me, that’s what made 2016 great. It was everything.