These are the final one thousand words.
Two days ago, I had written 990,000 words and had just 10,000 – just 1% – remaining.
As of this morning, I had 994,000. And between then and now, I have written all but these final few.
And I am actually not entirely sure what I would like to say.
I sit down in the morning and write thousands of words, stream of consciousness, as I almost always do.
And then, for the final thousand, I do not want to do that.
So I ask myself to write something that is not stream of consciousness; something that is deliberate.
I step away from the writing.
And it takes me some time – several hours – to collect myself in that place.
Because I am not entirely sure what I would like to say.
For starters: it is my birthday today.
And it is snowing outside.
These two things I know for sure.
And these are two things that I know – am pretty sure – I want to say.
The funny thing about these two seemingly unrelated truths is that they do not necessarily have to mean anything at all. But, on the other hand, one can choose to consider both very dear.
I love birthdays – all birthdays, for everyone – and I love snow. And I am sitting here today, writing and drinking coffee and listening to whatever music I want to listen to and occasionally looking out at the snow and feeling so incredible fortunate to have this time in my day to enjoy things such as these and, in doing all of this, I am choosing to make these things mean more than they have to. And it is those sort of daily decisions that make life worthwhile.
Both of these things – the birthday and the snow – are simple little pleasures of life. One is a celebration of having lived another year; the other a celebration of seasons and change and all things being different all the time – and to recognize the wonder in tiny celebrations such as these is to be really living that much more.
Today means something.
And every day means something, if we only wake up and choose to say so.
I think of this as I write the final thousand words.
I think about a lot of things.
I can’t help but reflect on all that I have written over the last year, and that is largely how I am spending my day today; in reflection – not only reflecting on all of the writing, because there has been a lot of it (and not all of – not nearly all of it – easy), but also the rest of my year; the other living that l did.
This year was robust and rich and complex for me.
I quit my job in March.
I was not meant for the job and the job was not meant for me, so it was an easy, obvious decision to make when I left it. And yet. When you quit a job, it affects you. And even though the choice had been easy, the change in lifestyle always comes with some strain.
On top of that, my brother also died in March.
And then “the kid” – John’s nineteen year old nephew that we had been trying to (re)raise – was arrested and sentenced to a term in prison.
And for the next six years, I will think about him and periodically wonder if I did right by him; if I could have done anything differently during the year when I was supposed to be giving him guidance.
March was not easy for me.
But we recover from these things.
So long as we choose to do so.
I started with a new company in June and it has undoubtedly been my favorite role to date.
It has not always been easy.
It has, however, been incredibly rewarding.
Things seem to so often work out like this – that the times that demand the most of us are also those that give us the most meaning.
I worked up to eighty hours a week during the peak of the project, and maybe you just have to believe me when I say that it was absolutely a labor of love. It was, without any doubt in my mind, the absolute happiest I have ever been, and when I put myself to bed each night, all I wanted to do was get up the next morning and do it all again.
And regardless of where I go from here, I now know that this level of happiness exists.
The thing is, it’s all up to us, really. Life is what you make of it. Your happiness is up to you. It is your responsibility to define what you need to be happy and then defend it. The one thing you can control is your reaction and your mindset. The only thing you need to be happy is the decision that you are. These things I also know for sure.
And really, these are all effectively the same thing.
We rub circles into the tiny, settled dust particles of our lives and we sweep tiny scraps of “somethings” under rugs; we wake up most mornings and so often move things around just a little, just to get by, and for a while, that’s just fine.
But ultimately, if we want more, we have to make the decision to drop a soaking wet rag onto a dingy floor, kneel down beside it and, leaning our weight into the cloth and the floorboards beneath it, begin to really work against the grain.
This can all be so incredibly good if you only believe that it can be – or that it already is.
I may not have everything, but I wrote one million words this year and have a job I love.
And, if nothing else: today is my birthday. And it is snowing.
So I got that going for me, which is nice.
And so now I am going to have a glass of champagne and I am going to toast myself on how incredibly lucky I am.