Today is the first day of the 2014-15 school year at the University of Miami. For me, the first day of school always signaled new beginnings. And for someone who likes adventure, new beginnings were always welcome.
I remember when I graduated law school talking to one of my best friends, Lindsay, about one of my greatest fears: That life after school was over would be boring. I imagined myself stuck behind a desk, with my days punctuated by trips to the coffee maker and lunch. I vocally worried about life becoming habitual and predictable and my fun dying.
One thing I’ve learned in the five years since I graduated law school, is that in order to create excitement for your life, you need to be open to new beginnings. New beginnings can be as simple as picking up a new hobby or joining a new gym. Or, they can be deeper, like beginning a new relationship or moving to a new place.
With the start of the new school year comes the end of summer, which is always bittersweet. This summer was special for me, because it saw a lot of new beginnings. As crazy as it sounds, when I woke up and was 30 on June 20, my life turned a new page. Suddenly, I felt as though I really knew myself. It was like a lightbulb went off where I realized I was in full control of everything in my life. I finally understood my wants, needs and idiosyncrasies. I accepted my faults, found joy in my quirks and figured out ways to exploit my talents. Each of these led to new beginnings in my life. And as I travel down the roads these new beginnings are leading to, I’m grateful for my willingness and openess to change and accept each day as it comes.
I took a bit of a “soul searching” trip a couple weeks ago up the California coast. I drove the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco alone on a Sunday. As I wound my car around curves that felt like those of a roller coaster, I thought about the path that my life is on and where I want it to go. I thought about the joy that awaits me and the things I’ve left behind. Close to the end of my drive, I stopped at Pebble Beach and the famed 17-Mile Drive. There, I paid a visit to the famed Lone Cypress tree. This tree, that stands alone, is estimated at being 250 years old. It has been there far longer than anything around it, save for the rock it sits on and the ocean below it. Yet, it persists. It actually does more than persist–it lives.
Why? Because it’s been able to adapt to change.
What is it, that with growing up, makes us resist change? I told someone yesterday that the biggest regret I have from the last five years, is my unwillingness to let go of the past, change and find new beginnings. Why is it, that when we were young, new beginnings were exciting? Why was the first day of school–and all of the newness that came with it–celebrated? Why did we look forward to moving to college, getting a new car and going new places when we were young, but look at similar situations as adults with fear?
This week, one of my closest friends in Miami, Tyger, moves to New York City. To say that the last month of life has been crazy for Tyger would be an understatement. Imagine every personal battle one can face and then put it into the timespan of 30 days. I remember driving Tyger to the airport a few weeks ago and telling her one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in the last five years: With chaos comes change. And it’s only through change that we can finally find happiness.
Some of the greatest things in my life have been preceded by chaos. However, the great things only came because I was willing to change. I was willing–and ready, because of the chaos–to begin new. To start over. To move on. To let go.
Last week, the president of the University of Miami, Donna Shalala, spoke to our faculty. One thing she said that stood out to me, is that working at a university keeps one young. I couldn’t agree more. Being surrounded by young people and their hopes, dreams and ideas is one of the greatest things that has happened to me. It’s one of the greatest things that has happened to me, not only because I get to learn from these young people, but because every fall I am reminded that life can always start again new.
We are all given an unlimited amount of opportunities that matches the number of days we have on this earth. We are given more chances for change than our mind can even begin to wrap itself around. Life doesn’t need to be stale. In fact, it’s meant to be an adventure. It’s meant to be celebrated and something that causes joy. It’s meant to be pushed to its boundaries and to be tested, so that you can figure out your full potential. It’s meant to be redeemed and refreshed. It’s meant to give you a chance to start new and begin again.
To those starting a new school year today, good luck! Make the most of it. It’s a gift.
And to those of my “older” friends, make something new today. Make the most of this life. It’s a gift.