Every year around about this time I sit down and try to give my own thanks to all the people in my life and look back on the year that was. Welcome, friend, to 2011’s version.
It’s The End of the Year As We Know It
You know, I have been writing these little end of the year missives for a pretty fair amount of time now and I can truly and genuinely tell you that I love writing them. I love being able to take a moment to thank the people in my life who make my life something more than a countdown of days. I have always approached these as a way to tell you, as many of you as I am able, how much you mean to me and how important you are to who I am. We forget so easily the names and faces that flow through our lives but never the impact they have because the heart can register things our minds often don’t. The kind gesture of a stranger, the hug of a friend, the gentle kiss of a loved one, these things create seismic shifts in us that are felt long after they happen. It’s funny that I still remember the most random things from my school days and yet so much is lost. I recall when my Commercial Art teacher called me in for my senior evaluation after taking his class for two years and being told, with all seriousness, that I was no artist. A cruel thing to say and one that kept me from seriously doing art for at least a decade. But in the same way the good things can last as well. Can send quakes along your heart that help to make life richer, more vibrant, and more valuable.
There will never be a way to repay all of the kindnesses or all of the nastiness I have experienced in life so I am left working, day by day, to pay forward the good and to work past the bad. And I wish it was as easy as that, as easy as saying – I refuse to let these things and these people hurt me and I swear to be better today than I was yesterday – but life isn’t that simple. We are not that simple. The wisest man will always do ignorant things and the greatest monster will have moments of kindness, and that’s how it should be. We should forever be learning, forever growing, forever evolving into whatever it is we are meant to be. I have been lucky enough to have so many patient, good people in my life who are willing to suffer through my bad days and champion my good ones. I hope that I do at least that much for all of you.
I feel very lucky, and very thankful this year, more so than usual, as I have been lucky enough to release three books, do a lot of art shows, a couple conventions, and lived a dream. Lucky isn’t even a big enough word for how I feel but it’s the best one I have because the odds were against us until I was just about ready to give up on the dream of doing a horror convention in Flint and things just suddenly came together. That happens when you have a lot of support, a lot of friendship, and a lot of love backing you up. That happens when you are lucky enough to be surrounded by good people that won’t let you fall apart.
If this year served to tell me anything it was to keep dreaming. Keep dreaming not just the small things but the big things, the enormous things, the things that cast shadows far into the future. I found out that dreams, the best ones, won’t come easy, won’t come fast, and won’t come without taxing your patience and resolve but that once you achieve them things are suddenly so much sweeter. And we won’t attain every dream, we just can’t, but the ones that matter most, the ones that you sit up nights thinking about and planning, those are the ones we need to cling fast to. Those are the ones we can’t let go of too easily or we’ll forever regret it. And in dreaming, just the sheer act of dreaming we give ourselves reasons to reach higher, go farther, and to keep pushing even in the darkest of times because there is always, always hope, even in the darkness of pitch black self doubt because there is always the next day, the next time so long as we don’t give up. Because if you give up, if you give up all there is left is regret.
And of all the poisons the heart will suffer, regret may be the most potent because it is often the one we are fully in control of doling out. Regret is a poison that kills so much in us, so much of our past, so much of our future, and it takes away so much of our present that it colors everything in deep ashen hues. But life is full of regret, full of the hard choices we make for ourselves, for others, for things and dreams we cannot yet fathom. Regret is natural, is a necessary evil in a life brimming with choices. We are bound to regret things, it is how we deal with that regret and how we move forward from it that defines us. It is how we rise above the regret, or tunnel through it, that defines who we are yet to be.
And I have regrets, boy do I, but I will always, always count myself lucky to have so many amazing people in my life, whether they be close friends or acquaintances because all of you help to define me, and help me see past those many regrets and to keep reaching upwards. All of you share my passions, my joys, my failures and regrets in some small way and all of you help me move forward from all of it so I never get to high nor too low. The darkness is always there friends, is always waiting to cover us, and it will, from time to time, but together we can keep it at bay, and can keep one another in the light. Together we can are a light eternal that can cast away anything if but we stand as one.
Together we are mighty.
Together we are strong.
I leave you with a wish my friends, a simple, simple wish.
May your wisdom out-gain your need, may your love overpower your fear, and may the people around you echo your beauty but remind you where the earth is as you soar.
Thanks for everything.
Wishing you and yours the best in 2012.
I hope it is a year of living dreams for every one of you.
In the end only you can save yourself and no one is beyond saving.