To all of you who believed in me, thank you... to all of you who didn't: I made it to the "oh-so-glorious, long-awaited, deeply-coveted" age of 21. Successfuly, independently, not always gracefully, but I would hope humbly and with the utmost gratitude to the ones who HAVE stood beside me... not because they had to, but because they wanted to... Its been an honor proving the rest of you wrong.
On the days leading up to my 21st birthday, the day of, and these couple days after, there have been three things consistently on my mind. This first of which is amazing grace. I talk often about how lucky I am to be surround by the people I'm surrounded by. There is someone up there looking out for me... I'd be a fool to think otherwise. I cannot say that anyone who has been in my life has been there by coincedence. Its just not possible. For every bump in the road, there has always been someone at the ready to take me on the detour. Talk about amazing grace. I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind, but now, I see.. Thank you to everyone in my life who knowingly, or unknowingly keeps me believing in God... I consider you all angels. I would have never made it through the last several years without all of you... which brings me to my next topic.
Brick walls. In the words of Randy Pausch, "The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough." I cannot tell you how many brick walls I've hit, run through, jumped over, slammed into, or just sat and stared at in the last handful of years. I could have built an entire city out of all of them... but looking back at all of that from where I am today, its good to know that those mountains are now mole hills, and some, better yet, canyons. I learned a lot about life in the years that I spent falling apart... but I've found that most importantly, I've learned to rebuild. And though I don't always get it right the first time, I've learned a lot about what not to do, which I like to believe puts me a little closer to rebuilding for good. "The struggles make you stronger, the changes make you wise, and happiness has its own way of taking its sweet time.." I've grown to become quite fond of brick walls... they really do give you a chance to prove yourself. You've got to learn to fight for yourself when no one else will fight for you, and though initially its a big pill to swallow, it really makes you a stronger person from the inside out. But what happens once you make it past those walls?
That brings me to my third and final contemplative subject: catalysts. One of the last things my grandmother said to me was "Congratulations, you've made it to the other side... now its time to stop treading water and move forward." I would say her death was the most significant catalyst I encountered this summer. She's right. I am finally on the other side of the ever-looming black cloud. Sure bad things will still happen, but I'm quickly learning that that is just life, and its to be expected. It really and truly is time to move forward.. no excuses. In losing my computer this summer which was packed full of memories from the last several years, I realized its not about being able to hold onto those things, its about being able to let them go. I was lucky to be able to make those memories in the first place. There was a lot of negativity packed onto that hard drive... those are gone, but the happy, meaningful, most treasured memories are in my heart forever... that's what counts. Sometimes you lose the people closest to you... but A) thats not really true because if they were that close to you in the first place they will always be present in some aspect of your life, even if it is just in your memories. B) it allows room for others to reach out to you and ultimately for you to reach out to others.
The Lion King got it right, "Its the circle of life, and it moves us all through despair and hope... through faith and love. As we find our way on the path unwinding in the circle, the circle of life." I am so excited for the future... I did something for myself last week... I've done this about once a year since my parents got divorced... but before going to teach my band back home, I drove past my old house: the last place where we lived together as a family. For the first time in years, I felt nothing. Not happiness, not sadness.. nor resentment, nor hate... not anything but complete peace. That, my friends, was an awesome feeling. . I have started over more times than I can count, and I have gone backwards more times than I care to admit... But I am taking a stand to move forward. I have hit a lot of brick walls... but the point is, they're behind me. I can honestly say I am happier than I have been in years. I have some big plans and some crazy big dreams and I have no intentions of letting anything or anyone get in my way.
Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come. 'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.