By Charles K. Poole
I discontinued my nearly ten-year-old blog earlier this year because it was time, and I do not regret the decision. This year presents a bit of a challenge because I used the blog to write an annual year-end post reflecting on what the year meant to me and what I learned, but can no longer do that. I will wing it this time, still motivated by my hope that these words will reach and help those who read them.
When a year proves to be as frustrating as 2017, I cannot point to one thing that defined the year. In comparison with recent years 2017, reinforced life lessons and confirmed the impact of experiences gleaned from the people I know and the situations I survived. These seeds of wisdom, planted over the years, grew and allowed me to develop into the man I am and continue to become. On the next-to-last day of 2017 I find peace in the knowledge that while the year changed me, it didn’t defeat me.
I accept that dancing with life requires knowing when to lead and when to follow. That requires reorienting my way of thinking about the world continuously. I used to guard my privacy at all costs. Now, I share my experiences in the belief that doing so offers proof that it is life-affirming. People I know—and some who I don’t know—take down the walls that they put up and tell me their stories: personal, thoughtful, perspective-changing stories that taught me invaluable, wonderful lessons.
In 2017, I published the third and final book in the I Am My Own Cause. These books began as the aforementioned blog in 2008, but grew into something different: a labor of love that resonated with a lot of people, encouraging them to move on when they thought they reached the end of their rope. I gave the book a mouthful of a title — I Am My Own Cause, The Third Act: Surviving and Thriving (available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and www.pooleproofbooks.com). Shameless plug!
Surviving and thriving reflects the mindset of those of us forced to survive in order to get to a place where we can look ahead and thrive while we live in a world gone mad. I leave 2017 behind secure in the hope that all is not lost … at least not yet.
I see acts of kindness in the midst of the negativity and of the hatred at this difficult time and I know that those loving, unselfish acts can—and will—change the world. That realization brings tears to my eyes because it tells me that we’re all going to make it. Those who believe in the possibility of a better world must be more loving, more compassionate, more understanding, and more determined in our commitment to our beliefs.
Every morning, when I open my eyes, I feel a sense of gratitude that for the opportunity to do better and to be better. Gratitude is powerful, and it reminds me of the reasons to continue the good fight.
In 2017, I came to terms with the notion that I squandered a lot of time, opportunity. I didn’t reach this point in my life by being perfect nor do I pretend otherwise. I make mistakes, learn from them, and humble myself whenever I am guilty of hubris. In 2018, I will avoid doing things that do not serve a purpose and be more present in my life for reasons beyond work and materialism.
I accept the responsibility for making good and not-so-good choices. My philosophical home rests on a foundation of accountability and of authenticity. Through self-awareness I define myself. While this approach may not work for others, it works for me and gives me a sense of peace.
Soon, I will reach an age that eluded every member of my family, except my grandmother. While I find myself somewhat conflicted about this milestone, I do not fear it. Instead, I feel curious about what lies ahead because I am a planner by nature and I don’t know what to plan for. I choose to live.
In 2018, I will live on purpose and with purpose—open to everything and everyone I encountered on the path I traveled. I will be hopeful when tempted to be cynical, and I will continue to use my words, my voice, and my experiences in service of the greater good. I will give more to the world than I take from it, focusing on the quality of my life versus the quantity of it.
I can do all of these things because—among other things—2107 taught me to put aside worry when the journey got rough. In 2018, new possibilities abound, and I’m ready to make the rest of my life the best of my life.