Like many people, my family is the ultimate joy. Although happiness and fulfillment are deeply personal, my wife and children inspire me to be better and make me feel like the luckiest man alive. I am forever grateful to them, and this year was no different. Same goes for the many friends that have stayed with me over the years.
But there are several new things that came into my life this year that I’d like to recognize. Some of them are simple. All of them make me even more grateful to be alive. While I don’t mean to be insensitive to anyone still struggling with this moving goalpost of a pandemic, I can honestly say that I’m happier today than I was pre-COVID.
1. Steady income. With exception to a scary three months of no income in my first year of business, I have enjoyed a comfortable and often growing income every year of my career. That came to a humbling halt last year and continued on and off through early this year. But thanks to a couple of remarkably kind and trusting new clients, my writing has stabilized this year and is 75% back to normal. As the sole provider of my household, this is a wonderful feeling, if not backbone for the rest of my life. I am immensely grateful for that.
2. New friends. When times get tough, people rally. When that happens, new relationships are formed and old ones are often rekindled or deepened. Either way, I consider all of those to be new friendships. And I can count nearly a half a dozen that have entered, excited, and further enhanced my life this year, without losing the long-time friends of decades past. Net friendships are up 110% this year, which I believe is an even more successful and important number than net income.
3. Weekly soccer. After more than three decades of losing touch, I crossed paths with a former childhood friend in January. We went to lunch. Caught up. And he invited me to play pickup soccer with college kids and crazy good Latinos at BYU’s indoor practice facility. Since March, I now play once or twice a week for a couple of hours on my lunch break. It makes me feel like a kid again. It is humbling and exciting and even validating to hold my own at times. On top of that, it has improved my fitness in new ways and added a new group of fun colleagues to interact with.
4. New travel. After an extended, 18 month lock down, I started traveling again in earnest this year. Not only has this scratched my itchy foot, it’s allowed me to see the world again with fresh eyes and new curiosity. Perhaps more than any other activity, travel is a triumph over prejudice, materialism (e.g. experiences over things), and mistrust in humanity. I love having it back in my life, even in limited doses.
5. My second record. After producing my first album last year that arguably prevented a midlife crisis 😉, I was scared that I would have nothing left to say musically. I was wrong! Although my emotions weren’t as charged as last year, I was able to channel different emotions and feel like my songwriting and music production got even better this year. The melodies kept coming, and I kept recording, which allowed me to continue lifting my voice and creating. That makes me feel complete. I can’t wait to share my second, full-length album with the world this January. 🤘
Lastly, I would add that my father’s funeral was the best celebration of life I experienced this year. Although I wasn’t ready to lose him, I was unexpectedly inspired and deeply moved by his legacy this year. For that I give thanks to God, in addition to the many “happy little accidents” that made much of the above possible.