Toward the end of 2018, I was asked by a close friend, "What would this coming year mean to me and the world I live in."
But before I could answer, I had to first digress back to the Spring of 2016 when I was still living in Tucson, AZ.
One thing for sure ... the journeys I thought my life would take me on ... and the journeys I experienced have been light-years apart.
Once Upon a Time
During most of my life, I had lived with much success and recognition as well as my share of real failures too while on my many life journeys and adventures.
Such adventures as a TV film editor in Chicago for a few years ... founded a North American consulting firm with offices in Minneapolis and Phoenix and ran it for 16 years … wrote a magazine column for several years … and can’t forget my early years when I worked day labor that often left me stiff and sore … and much, much more.
Also, during many of my 22 years living in Tucson (1994-2017), I regularly volunteered my services to the Tucson community at large, playing active roles at different levels. It all sounds pretty good … Right?
A Deep Void Called Out to Me
But for unknown reasons, I always felt something was missing in my life … I seemed to have always wrestled with the question “What is my purpose?”
You see … I felt a deep void both in my heart and in my soul calling out to me.
But what I found instead was something so much more incredible. You see, each morning when I wake, I feel grateful that my soul has been restored to my body … and for the opportunity I will have that day to share Love and Joy with family, friends … (that’s Love with a capital L and Joy with a capital J) … and just as important, to share Love and Joy with the strangers I meet along the way.
And please know, most days I am successful. And please know, most days I now have meaning in my life.
Finding Meaning in My Life
At last, I realized there was no end to the often-lonely pursuit of finding the meaning in my life … meaning that I had been searching for as long as I can remember … and now I have finally stopped searching.
A Time for Change
The following year I felt a repeated calling from deep in my soul to leave Tucson … that there was something calling me home, as the song lyrics say, “to a place I’d never been before”.
And after discussing these strong feelings with my then 80-year-old dear friend of 20 years, Rabbi Arthur Oleisky of Tucson … and with my then 19-year-old son Jacob … I knew what I had to do.
Sold Most Things I Owned
And so, in June 2017, at age 70, my home was sold and I also sold most of the things that I owned … or gave them away … then packed up my Honda Civic with what I planned on keeping until it was overflowing … and knew there was still more I had to let go of.
Let the Next Life Journey Begin
Soon, I started up the California coast on what would be an incredible adventure … stopping first in Encinitas, then onto Santa Monica, Ojai, Morro Bay, San Francisco … each stop with a set of stories … sometimes sleeping on the beaches or at friend’s homes or sometimes even in my car … and not knowing where my final destination would take me.
I next found myself continuing up the coast and ended up near Mt. Shasta in Northern, CA camping out for a week.
I Did a Lot of Soul Searching
As I was now surrounded by the wisdom of a very mystical forest and as such, did a lot of soul-searching and talking with my God. And at times, I heard God’s thoughts back to me as the wind rustled through the tree limbs. Each day I patiently listened closely for words I needed to hear.
Then, unexpectedly the epiphany I had been waiting for spoke to me … “Trust the wisdom of your soul …Trust the wisdom in your spirit.”
The next morning, I broke camp and headed north to a place I had never been before …and to a place where I knew no-one … Ashland, OR
Stepping into the Twilight Zone
I so remember the joyful emotions I felt that first day driving in downtown Ashland … down Main Street. There was a huge banner hanging across the street from light pole to light pole that I drove under. It read “We Choose Love”.
I drove another mile or so and discovered an intellectual oasis ... Southern Oregon University. Without a doubt in my mind, I knew I was home. I would tell my friends back in Tucson, “In a good way, coming to Ashland was like stepping into the Twilight Zone.”
I had been in the hospital for a few days for observation (all is well) ... and with much time to ponder ... the following thoughts danced in front of me.
Was Something Still Missing?
“During all my many life journeys … and I have lived many … I always felt something was missing ... that my cup was either half-full or half-empty ... but always felt something lacked.
And as I lay in bed in peaceful reverie, I was suddenly awakened by all the "unappreciated-appreciations" that belonged to each of those life journeys I traveled and felt a sense of awe.
An Awakening ... My Cup Overfloweth
Being introduced to Appreciations about my life I never knew before was so revealing. It was kind of like being visited by the ‘Ghost of Christmas Past’… but in a loving way.
And now for the first time, was also awakened to yet another Personal Awareness ... that my cup was never half-full or half-empty … but that my cup has been overflowing all my life.
A Trusted Teacher
I heard a trusted teacher say several years ago … “If you want to change your future, learn to change your past.” I now have begun to experience this seemingly impossible task.
You see I realized that … “How I saw my past would be how I lived my future ... How I saw my past would be how I lived my future.”
Answer to the Original Question
Now let me answer the original question that started this writing. "What will this coming New Year mean to me?”
In this coming New Year, I will be mindful of all the people and all the things in my life I can appreciate today and everyday … including this very moment ... and not wait for a distant tomorrow that may never come.
And in the coming New Year, I will be grateful for the fact that my cup overflows right now with meaning in my life … as I share Joy and Love every day with family and friends … and strangers too.
And lastly, in the coming New Year … I will remain appreciative that Ashland, OR continues to provide me the safe-space to evolve my inner being ... and the many caring individuals I’ve met in my community and now call friends.
And as your journey continues, may it be overflowing with Appreciation.