"You don't get older, you get better" Shirley Bassey

Birthdays are these odd days that remain seared into my mind's eye representing this arbitrarily significant repeating 24 hour span of my life. I can remember almost all my birthdays and each one remains important, even when it didn't go according to plan. There is this surreal aspect to your birthday coming around. It's a demarcated day dedicated to the celebration of you. For one day the world does seem to revolve around you. People come out of the woodwork, well-wishes pour, and suddenly you're the center of attention. It's as if the regular rules of the world are suspended. I don't know, there's something exciting about it but simultaneously it seems disingenuous. I want people to care about me year round, and to be able to articulate that consistently, not just on the special occasion of the day I was born. It's wonderful, and I appreciate it but I want that same kind of energy throughout the year. I want us to build one another up just because instead of waiting for big days. I want extraordinary to be mundane. I want speaking affection into existence to be normal. I want to feel that downpour of love regularly. I want to be appreciated as I am, always, not adored like a king for a day.

This past year was unexpected in a multitude of ways. I feel like no matter much we plan for life, life always deviates from our plans. This was the year I learned how to create my own peace. I spent a great deal of time alone, and even more so, thrived in the solitude. I laughed more, I smiled more, and I was content - most importantly, all those things came from me instead of relying on others for  them. This year I practiced expressing love for others, readily, consistently, and explicitly. I started telling people I loved them. I said their names. I meant it. I wanted them to feel it. I wanted them to unequivocally know it as well. I showed up for others without question, to the best of my ability, in dynamic ways. I sent care packages, wrote letters, called, or visited people when they needed more or just needed some encouragement. I dropped everything for others and choose to prioritize people. I committed to people and stuck with them. I sat in silence, listened attentively, and cried with others. I was just there as a person with another person, and it was deeply intimate. I feel more like me, more free, and more purposeful.

As life goes on I have come to realize there are things that I do want to accomplish with my days. I made a list of things I want to do in life, and have slowly but surely adding to it. I changed my groomsmen list, and still have my kids' names list as well. For me, having those things gives me a reassurance - an indescribable serenity that life will continue to get better. I hope to achieve the following in my lifetime: to be a foster parent, become Secretary of the Education, publish a book, speak at at college commencement, give a Ted Talk, see the Northern lights, visit Australia or New Zealand, and to ride in a hot air balloon. Sitting down to think about what I want to experience, the kind of relationships I desire, and the life I want to live has been refreshing. I gained a sense of clarity and created waypoints for myself. I still don't know how I'll make it to where I want to go, but I know that paths are never really linear, but I'll get where I'm supposed to be in due time. That list signifies what it is important to me and grounding myself in it has been another motivator on top of my intrinsic call to serve others. A king must give his royal decree.

I don't subscribe to the idea that high school or college are the best years of your life. That implies that you peak in adolescence/young adulthood, and it's downhill from there. I am of the school of thought that each and every day life should be getting better. Treating it as much makes a huge difference. Instead of being trapped in a cycle of nostalgia I choose to be love where I am, and who I am right here and now. Things keep getting better. For my future, I wish for a few things: to maintain friendships and relationships, to be a selfless brother/uncle, to use my gifts/talents to help other people, to be a community leader but more so to empower others to embrace their own leadership abilities, and to create sustainable change wherever I can. I hope my days are filled with unbridled success, uncontrollable laughter, perfect peace, unconditional love, and infinite hope. I hope that I can share those things with others and get them to believe that those are also the things that they too deserve. I hope that I am always someone who helps others know their truth recognize their value, and prioritize themselves as worthwhile. I hope I never stop striving to make other people feel mattered. I hope I always recognize, validate, and celebrate the humanity of those around me. I hope that I get to radiate light, shine light, reflect light, be light, and ignite light for others just as much as they do for me. I want to be always be a king among royalty. X


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