To say the last 365 days of experiences have made me a different person doesn't speak to the depth of discovery and change that has occurred in me during the course of this journey. The sights I saw, the people I met, and the experiences I gained opened my eyes to the world around me, and with each new turn I was forced to take a hard look at myself. Of course, in that I found ways to be better at being me. I gained an unbelievable depth of perspective on life, I learned how to be more compassionate, and I found happiness in ways I never thought possible. I'm no longer afraid of getting older. I'm just ready to live.
While all of these things are independently amazing, this year also caused me to face many of my weaknesses and flaws head on. It caused me to look hard at how I had become who I was and how that person compared to the man I wanted to be. As a result, I found my limits in some things and came to realize many things I had overlooked or ignored because of the narrow perspective I used as my compass before my 30th birthday. The only conclusion I can make on this day, the 365th day of my journey, is that I cant stop here, I can't go back, if I am to find my way down the path I want to take.
With all this in mind, I started taking a hard look at where I was, where I was going, and what I still needed to learn about myself. That introspective reflection ultimately helped me understand staying on the path I had known wouldn't fill in those remaining gaps in learning who I am and in discovering true meaning in my life. Change was needed if I was to make the life I wanted a reality, and it had to start with figuring out how to get there.
That thought process led to a lot of evaluation and conversations with the closest people in my life as the final days of my "I have never..." year drew closer. In each, the people that mean the most to me noted the changes they have seen in me, and each of them left me with words of encouragement to continue my pursuit of discovery. They all knew that likely meant significant change, but they reassured me my journey up to this point left them with little doubt I could handle it. A lot of thought and a stream of amazing new experiences between then and now bring me today.
After thinking through this experience and thinking through where I am going, I have decided to make some significant changes in my life. First, after a lot of deep, honest discussion about our lives and where I'm headed in mine, Rachael and I have decided to separate. With every intention of staying good friends, we are working through the change together, and I know I will always do everything in my power to help and support her in life. I love her dearly, there is no question about that, but an honest assessment of who we are forced us to admit what we need to find happiness in our lives is very different.
Second, I don't know exactly where I'm headed, but I know I can't stop exploring if I'm to find the answers for which I'm searching. After this year, I can honestly say my eyes are open for the first time, and I know I would be a fool to voluntarily close them after all I have experienced. There is a great big world out there, and I fully intend to continue heeding its call. I don't where that will lead me, and I'm not sure if it means leaving the place I have called home for a decade, but for the first time in my life I'm okay with not knowing.
Finally, I know it's time to try to find ways to pursue what has always made me happy, doing what I can to positively influence others and help them make discoveries in their own lives. In the coming months I intend to wrap up the writing on this blog and to try to find outlets to speak and write about my journey, about what I have learned, and about ways people can find meaning in the breathtaking beauty and endless possibilities that fill our world. I want to help others break the routines and find more meaning in their lives. A part of that will include continuing to update this blog with stories of my new experiences. The other part will include finding new outlets to reach new people in my desire to inspire others to go after their own "I have never..." experiences. I figure now is as good a time as any to start that pursuit.
I know in the coming days, weeks, and months these changes, and my commitment to starting over will bring a lot of "newness" to my life. It has to if I am going to continue this journey I chose to begin one year ago. In everything I have learned and experienced I have rediscovered a curiosity about the world that often gets left in childhood, and I have gained a newfound knowledge that only came with really, truly living for the first time in my life. I have uncovered unspeakable meaning and a new sense of purpose. For the first time in my life I have seen who I am, and I've learned that person needs to experience more of the world to continue learning and growing. I've learned that this 365 day journey of self-discovery needs to become a way of life if I'm to hold onto the happiness I found. I've learned that the only thing that matters, the only thing that permits us to turn the string of ephemeral moments we call life into something meaningful, is the story we make... and I intend to tell a really good one.