This started off as a facebook post, but quickly blossomed into one of those too-long updates that annoys people more than interests them, so I moved it here to annoy you. Cheers.
2015 was one of the most educational years I’ve ever had. More so than any of the ones I spent in school, college, or training for my career in law enforcement.
No, 2015 has taught me so very, very much about myself- and about other people as well.
I’ve learned a lot about trust. Sometimes it can be found in the strangest of places, yet be completely absent where you expect it should be. People you ought to be able to depend on to watch your back, stick up for you, or help you may completely vanish in your time of need, or worse yet- throw you right to the wolves if it better suits their needs. On the other hand, there are people who will give you a hand up without thinking about it, and they can often be the last people you’d expect it from.
I’ve learned about disappointment, and failure. Leaving a job I fought so hard to get when things turned out to not be what I had expected. Two and a half years working and training, then having to go right back to my ‘old life’ in IT was crushing. It sapped more energy from me than any night in the academy ever did. Then, there were the jobs I applied for throughout the year, the ones that didn’t pan out. Three interviews at three different colleges, nothing panning out. Professionally, I was as low as I’d ever been.
I learned a ton about hard work, perseverance, and patience. While job hunting I went over previous interviews, tweaked my resume, updates references, and kept hustling, the whole time working as a contractor between days doing IT. Ultimately, it paid off. I landed my dream job. Exactly where I wanted to be, exactly what I wanted to do. Months of struggle to make ends meet while still putting my best foot forward in interviews and on paper paid off. Patience IS a virtue.
I learned how critical family is as a support mechanism. Through the lowest lows, coming home every afternoon to my wife and kids was the biggest morale booster I could have asked for. The two boys have a way of burning stress away (usually by creating their own brand of it!) and they’ll never know how important that was to me while I looked for work. My wife too, was the absolute pinnacle of my strength this year, and in 2015, I realized how much I NEED her support, love, guidance, and occasional reality checks.
I learned to appreciate love. We’re watching my brother-in-law’s marriage fall apart. It’s a tale of infidelity, lies, deceit, and cowardice. We’re watching other family members get dragged into the maelstrom of crap between the two of them. The whole time, my wife and I are holding each other a little closer, worried for them, but at the same time looking closely at what we have, and breathing a sigh of relief that after being together for twelve years, the doubts and misgivings which are the seeds to unhappiness…aren’t there. I have what I know many others are not lucky enough to have, and there isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not appreciative of it.
Most of all though, the biggest lesson I’ve taken from 2015 is this:
THERE IS NO SCRIPT.
Life twists, turns, undulates, bucks, kicks, rolls, and flips at will. We can plan, sure. Plans are nice. But plans change. People change, circumstances change. Constantly. The more tightly we hold onto plans, the worse it hurts when they go into an upheaval. We need to be as flexible as possible when charging headlong through our lives. If we don’t roll with change, we’ll be rolled by it.
I’d like to tell a brief story that I think is a perfect allegory for what I am trying to say:
A long time ago, before I learned that my talents were better served backstage in theater productions than they were onstage, I had landed the part of a policeman in a production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” One night, one of the actors jumped a full page of script and made his entrance long before he should have. As his foot hit the bottom of the stairs, he realized what he’d done. You could see it on his face. On Abby and Martha’s face too. The other policeman and I stood there for a second, and the half a heartbeat of dead silence felt like a week and a half. To this day I don’t know what I said, or what drove me to do it, but in front of a live audience, I ad-libbed two or three sentences, crushing a page of dialogue into just a brief moment, and put the show back on track. The audience may not have even noticed. We all did, but thankfully, whatever the hell I had said….worked, and we went on with the show.
The point of this story is that we’d rehearsed that scene countless times before the show. We’d even done a show or two before that particular night. It had all been planned out. The stage direction, the lines, the markings, the cues, all of it was perfectly planned and timed. Then, all of a sudden…it all changed. The success of that particular scene depended on someone flying by the seat of their pants and fixing it. This time it was me. The next show, it might be someone else. If we hadn’t rolled with it, who knows what could have happened. A botched scene can suck the energy out of a play in no time, and the whole thing can fall flat.
This anecdote I believe, is the perfect analogy for what I mean when I say life doesn’t have a script, and that while plans are nice, sometimes the unplanned has to be dealt with if you’re going to be successful.
2015 has been a very educational year for me, and I’m looking forward to seeing what its lessons will mean for me when 2016 comes roaring in.
Happy New Year readers. I appreciate your audience this whole time. Your comments, your input, all of it has been a driving factor in what’s kept this blog of mine alive. May you have a safe and happy celebration of the new year tonight, and I hope that 2016 is the best you’ve had yet.
See you all on the other side of it.