26 Years and Still Seems Like I've Just Begun to Understand

What a difference one year makes. Life hardly resembles where I stood this time last July. And how much more of a complete stranger I feel towards 5-years-past-me. 6 years ago (2011), my life had completely come unhinged and entirely fallen apart. 5 years I had begun piecing everything into a new picture. 4 years I felt two decades of work had instilled a sense of having "made it" with graduation, promotion, and stable relationship. 3 years my health had taken a huge hit and I felt wholly hopeless as starving myself from 210 lbs to 145 lbs in about 6-8 weeks rocked my sense of mortality to the core. 2 years I felt things had again come together and my health returned. Last year I felt my grip on life slip from attempting to cope with the dissolution of my on-off-on-off relationship over nearly 6 years, a dead-end job that I hated so much it gave me anxiety attacks just getting ready for a shift, and having no sense of direction or push for any goal.

2017 marked a turning point in the celestial trajectory of my journey. I rang in the New Year sitting alone in my room drinking a bottle of champagne and found myself single, unemployed, discouraged, and directionless. I sat here staring at my keyboard, my screen, my life in sentences and my sentences in life. I reflected upon the tally of my life as it stood naked in the mirror glaring back into my eyes. I reflected upon the poem, “The Man in the Glass” (1934) by Dale Wimbrow Sr., our football team recited every week in our pregame routine:

When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.
For it isn't your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.
He's the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he's with you clear up to the end,
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.
You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,
And think you're a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the guy in the glass.

This year, as I look onward and inward toward my looming, oncoming 27th birthday, I thank those that have supported and cared and loved me through all of the good, the bad, the ugly, the painful, the magnificent, the terrifying, the enlightening, the life-threatening, the enriching, the learning, the living, the loving, the losing. I thank those that offer me kind words in my times of need and harsh truths in my times of stubborn reluctance. I thank those that read my words, that build connections through my pain, that find home in my arms thrown wide. I thank those that have left my life for greener pastures lit bright and kept warm by sunnier days. I thank those that have come into my life and brought with them the dark clouds, the smell and the sounds of freshly falling rain storms, and winds of change needed to fill my sails pointed towards bluer skies and clearer waters.