Failing and Finding
I planned to write this on December 1, but like much of this year has gone, something else popped up in the place of my plans.
I failed this year.
When the clock struck Midnight on January 1, 2015, I had but one New Year’s resolution: Travel less.
I made my intention of traveling less known to my close circle, my not-so-close circle and even my students. And everyone I let know about my plan responded in the same way, “Why?”
In my mind, I needed to travel less to settle down. To find myself. To dig some roots in my still relatively new home of Miami. To build a life that isn’t always about jetting off with a suitcase. I needed to travel less to let “real life” unfold.
Tomorrow I’ll get on to my count, 34th flight, of 2015. If you’re counting (like I am), that’s one flight every 10.7 days.
That was not the plan.
Yet, when I get to the bottom of things, perhaps it was better than the plan.
Perhaps it was better than the plan, because “real life” unfolds the way it is meant to when you let go of the reins.
Perhaps “real life” unfolds the way it is meant to when you take a step back and just say, “Yes,” to all of the goodness that approaches you.
Perhaps “real life” unfolds when you stop trying to fit your life neatly into a box that you believe “real life” looks like and just start enjoying what’s in front of you.
What I sought this year in traveling less was simple spontaneity. I wanted pure joy unmarked by grand plans and schemes. I wanted to find happiness in the little things, like a local coffee shop, standing dinner dates with friends and maybe even falling in love with someone who lives in my same zip code.
In 2015, I got spontaneity. Oftentimes, though, spontaneity came through the vessel that is an airplane.
In April, my friend, David, called and said, “Why don’t you come and spend Easter in Haiti?”
Ok, I’ll come.
In May, an email came reading, “Why don’t you come to the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500?”
Ok, I’ll come.
In July came an email stating, “Why don’t you come to Germany for four days?”
Ok, I’ll come.
I found a lot in 2015 by merely saying, “Yes.”
I helped a friend start a fashion brand. I raised thousands of dollars to end the orphan crisis in Haiti. I interviewed sports leaders and taught at a top-50 university. I met new friends that live in every corner of the Earth.
In the end, though, when the clock strikes Midnight wherever I find myself this New Year’s, I will know I found one important thing in 2015:
I let go of a lot this year. The main thing I let go of is fear.
I let go of the fear of my life not looking like other’s lives.
I let go of the fear of the unknown. I let go of the fear of loneliness. I let go of the fear that drives much of my desire to control every situation I’m in.
If there’s one thing that has always stood about me, it is this: I don’t let go easily, especially of people.
You could take my home from me. I’d let you take all of my clothing. Take my belongings, if you will. Do not take my people, though.
I’ve always held on strong and tightly and never found it easy to say goodbye to people. I’ve always been this way, because I’ve been afraid of what life would look like without them.
I remember in first grade, we were assigned book buddies. I latched on to my book buddy. I loved the guy! Several weeks into the program, I was devastated when the time came to rotate book buddies. I didn’t want to say goodbye to my book buddy. How could life be any better than it is now, with this here book buddy, I thought to myself.
This year, most of all, I found that it’s ok to let go. Sometimes, the thing you have to do to get where you need to be, is not stay put. Sometimes, the thing you have to do to get where you need to be, is let go.
Sometimes, believe it or not, life is better on the other side of “Goodbye.”
So this year, I let go.
I let some friendships slide away.
I let the biggest relationship of my 20s fade into the sunset
I met the most amazing and interesting people across this globe, fully knowing and accepting of the fact that I may never see nor even talk to them again.
And in it all, I realized that I was ok.
I was ok, because in 2015, I finally realized that our time here on this precious Earth is short.
I finally realized that nothing on Earth is promised forever.
I finally realized that because of my temporariness on Earth, all I can do is live and love to my best ability during the time I have with others. With some, I’ll have a lot of time. With others, I’ll have mere moments.
I finally realized that this all of this is ok.
I finally realized this, because for once, in 2015, I lived in the moment.
I failed this year.
I failed big time this year, because I thought that not traveling was the key to me being able to live in the moment.
Looking back upon pictures and memories stamped in my mind for eternity, I know now that I was wrong.
I know that I was wrong, because forever inside of me is the day a best friend from high school and I ran around like little kids inside of a palace’s garden in Germany.
I know that I was wrong, because forever inside of me is the hours-long truck ride across the Haitian countryside spent with new friends with the biggest hearts as we discussed our boldest dreams.
I know that I was wrong, because forever inside of me are the memories under the stars in cities across the United States with my family and old friends, which cemented our places in each other’s lives into eternity.
I know that I was wrong, because forever inside of me are the dinners with strangers, breaking bread and drinking wine and contemplating our lives, which although not forever interwoven, were once marked by the gracious presence of each other.
Forever inside of me now is a belief and an understanding that life, contrary to all of your plans, gives you everything you need.
Right on time.
All of the time.
Even if you fail.