In what has become the most difficult year of my entire life, the theme throughout this year is that I was very much alone in facing each part. No one was there for me during the hardest and darkest parts. Not because no one wanted to be, but because I felt that I needed to deal with it alone. It was during this time that I stopped being afraid of life, and started embracing a story of adventure, while becoming acquainted with the relentless survivor buried beneath all the fear and self-loathing. 2016 may have been the worst year, but 2017 will be the first year. The first year of many where I actually live.
There is a path in Spain called the Camino de Santiago, or “The Way Of St. James”. The Camino de Santiago is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes, known as pilgrim ways, to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. The most popular of the many routes to Santiago de Compostela is known as The French Way, and is roughly 769 km.
What I love about The Way is that people from all over the world walk (or ride by horse or cycling) this path every year, and everyone who lives along this path calls the people who trek it “pilgrims”. There’s something beautiful about being on a pilgrimage. Something mystical, spiritual, and almost eternal.
I tell you about The Way because for many years now it has been on my bucket list. But it wasn’t until this year that I decided for sure that I was going to do it…soon.
The reality is that often times it’s the most difficult moments in life that teach us the most. It’s in these moments that our eyes are opened to more truth about life, love, and our existence than any other time in our life.
The truth for me came at a high cost. It took me losing the world I built for myself multiple times in one year before I realized I had been doing it all wrong and needed to go back to square one, which is what I’m doing now.
I spent my entire adult years trying to make a life out of something that was never sustainable. I was never going to be successful going down the path I was on. So I had to go back and start down a new path and make totally different decisions.
When you’re in a place where you can go in any direction, and you are faced with making responsible decisions for your life, while also having an opportunity to do what you truly love the most with your time, it feels only right that you take hold of that opportunity and try to make both sides work for the better of the other, right?
So my twenties were spent primarily trying to have the life everyone said I should have, or a (now ex) wife said I should be living, or living up to the standards of parents, peers, and friends. But what if the life I actually want is unconventional? What If I was never meant to be on the same path as everyone else? I know…I’m sounding super “millennial” right now. But I can’t shake the feeling that maybe I’m actually supposed to be doing something not only completely different than anything else I’ve ever done, but maybe also different from anyone else too!
My life has changed drastically over the last 12 months. This has, in turn, changed me drastically as well. I’m beginning to see everything through a bit of a different lens now. I’ve talked a lot about loving people better, loving yourself better, and learning how to tell a better story. My entire twenties were spent trying to learn what it means to live a better story. And during the last year of my twenties, it happened. My inciting incident. The thing that happens that changes everything forever. I had had many inciting incidents in my twenties, but none would be as powerful as the year 2016 and all that year held for me.
I come to the end of this year reflecting on the last 10 years and how I got here, but also looking forward and coming to the realization that it’s time for the rubber to meet the road. I’ve explored what telling a better story looks like, and I think its finally time that I just start telling a better story.
The Beginning And The End
I stand at the precipice of the next chapter. As I think about what I want 2017 to look like, I have decided a few things:
- I want to write, record, and perform songs as much and as often as possible.
- I want to pursue other forms of writing and hone the craft of writing.
- I want to learn how to monetize all pursuits to push towards my passions becoming my career.
- I want to go back to school.
Not a long list, but a lot for one year for sure.
The first steps towards making these things happen is that some things will come to an end.
This blog will be changing format beginning in January. I want to explore other forms of writing. Since this blog is my primary means of exploration in honing that craft, I will be using it to find my niche. This means I will be straying away from topics of self-discovery, and more towards light-hearted journalism. This is something I would love to know how to do well and have no idea how to really begin, so it feels like a great time to jump in headfirst.
The next thing I need to do is get serious about being business-minded when it comes to music. This means more gigs, more songs, and figuring out the best way to make all of you want to keep up with what I’m doing! There is a science to it. I just never cared enough to really get into it. But why not try, right?
All of this will be on top of the fact that I will be looking for a flexible, yet steady income, while also looking into going back to school to obtain a degree that will be useful for me personally, but also helpful in snagging a job with greater consistent income so that I can pursue my passions even more so.
Above all, I want this next year to be the end of what I have been doing that was royally unsuccessful, and the beginning of progress, stability, mental and emotional health, and a life of adventure that tells a story worth telling.
Why am I putting all of this out there? Well, because once it’s said then it’s official. I can’t really take it back without admitting failure and I certainly don’t want to do that. Sure, the goals might change a bit. But this time next year I want to be telling a vastly different story than I am telling right now.
This year was painful and difficult, but it was also immensely helpful in making me realize what I don’t want in life. It helped me see what kind of a person I was becoming, and where I needed to make changes. But it also helped me forgive certain people, including myself, and let go of things that had deeply wounded me that I was still carrying with me which were causing me to not live up to my potential, and live in fear of mistakes, failure, and rejection.
2016 was about batting down the hatches and holding my ground while the storms of life tore me apart limb from limb.
2017 will be about packing up what is worth keeping, leaving the rest, and moving on to see new places. It’s time to leave this place that I’ve called home behind and stop hanging on to things and people that aren’t good for me, and embrace the unknown.
I will walk the Camino de Santiago. I will do what I love. I will learn a new language, see other countries, and do extraordinary things. I will do all of these things and more, because I can and I have to.
You’re invited too. Pilgrimages don’t have to be lonely.
We only have one story to tell. And this story is about to get interesting.