This year had its extreme highs and its extreme lows. 2019 was a year that reminded me once again how incredibly wonderful yet crushingly heartbreaking it can be within a few moments.
The high of my year would be traveling to Spain, and walking the El Camino de Santiago (if you missed it, I posted a few photo galleries of my pilgrimage, as well as my time in Sevilla, Granada, and Madrid). I met incredible strangers that have now become my family and I was reminded of the beauty of humanity – that we all have more in common than we think and while we still have differences, they can be engaging, conversational and enlightening. In seven days I walked 100 miles in a foreign country and there has never been an experience in my life like it. I didn’t just come back refreshed, I came back home revitalized with a new understanding for my purpose and a new sense of self-awareness and confidence.
I was reminded that taking a gamble on yourself, and taking a chance for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity can leave you a little more curious about our world and our place within it. Not to mention that while our world can be incredibly small, it is vast with breathtaking views, cultural traditions and delicious food waiting to be experienced.
Yet a few short months later, I was reminded that life is so incredibly heartbreaking. I unexpectedly lost my aunt in October. In a matter of a few short hours my family would never be the same. It is still hard to believe that she isn’t coming home, that she won’t entertain my nieces, or be at a family dinner. My aunt lived such an amazing life – one I only really knew and saw a small sliver of. That’s what reminded me again that life, in a moment’s notice, can throw you into a tailspin. At noon on a Monday I was at work living my normal routine, and by dinnertime my aunt was gone and our family left with a hole that there is no way of filling.
The heartbreaking reminder of this year showed me that everyone in this world has a purpose. My aunt’s purpose I wouldn’t fully understand until she left us, until I could see clearly just how many people she influenced.
This year has been challenging, exciting and heartbreaking. Our family welcomed a new niece, while we said goodbye to an aunt we loved deeply. I said yes to an adventure on the other side of the world and began to build my home (figuratively and literally) here in Buffalo. This year was, as the cliche goes, a “roller coaster.” But with each dip and each peak, was a reminder about what life truly is – the most predictably unpredictable journey. One where we know what life is capable of throwing at us, yet we remain surprised when it finally hits us in the face. We tend to feel invincible to the bad and sometimes incapable of the good. Yet life is a mixed bag. We are capable of having the purest joy, but are not immune to our hearts, minds and spirits breaking.
I think these reminders are starting to set in. They’ve left me a person who is more willing to look at a complete stranger and know they have a story; they have something incredible to give this world. We may think we know someone, but their true power is almost incomprehensible, maybe only revealing itself until after they’ve left this world. The same could be said of ourselves. We should remind ourselves that our fullest potential is not even close to being realized, and to keep chasing what makes us happy and fulfilled. So when 2020 rolls around I hope to remind myself that each day really is a gift, that there is no time to wait, and that we all need to remember we belong to one another, and to be kind and loving always.