A year ago today, I was living in Cleveland. Rather, I was in Cleveland, deciding how to go about life. Not two months before, I'd worked up the courage to leave a job I'd loved when I sensed it was no longer right for me. This, for me, had been an unprecedented achievement. I'd restarted strength training in earnest; nothing new, but feeling healthy to be back at it. Meanwhile, a long and meaningful romantic relationship was in its death throes. It had been my first; as such, everything about it was new to me, including the end. By my own hand, the earth under my feet was now following radical new contours. By my own eyes, then, everything in it was lit from new angles. I was rediscovering, reevaluating, reappreciating.

A year ago today, I submitted my applications to Harvard and MIT. I had no idea I'd be completing the Columbia application three months later on a couch in San Francisco, let alone having gotten there via a week and half of America and following it up with another week and a half. I had no idea I'd be giving a pair of talks at a conference in Prague two months after that, let alone parlaying the trip into two months all over central and western Europe. I had no idea whether I'd be admitted to any of my three choices of university, let alone the one that was clearly best for me. And while I felt confident that attending college was a good idea whose time for me had finally and blessedly come, I had no sense of assurance that I'd thrive there, let alone pull down straight A's in my first semester.

A list of people who contributed immediately to the above would number, at a conservative estimate, in the half-dozen dozens. Who helped me in my early struggle to master my new terrain? Who told me about Columbia? Who wrote recommendations on my behalf? Who offered me a seat in his car headed west? Who put us up along the way? Who made sure I didn't have to worry about money in Europe? Who put me up all over that continent? Who did I meet there who refreshed me and reminded me of how much is possible? Who made it convenient for me to stay in Cleveland exactly as long as I needed? Who helped me move to New York? Who helped me adjust when I got here? Who read my travelogue or the college saga now unfolding and, in your own fashion, cheered me on?

See? Reappreciating. But that's not the moral of the story of my awesome year. The moral of the story is reflected in my goals for the new year, which are my goals for all the new years left to me:

  • Keep finding things I love doing, and
  • Keep doing them.
  • Keep finding things I can do better, and
  • Keep getting better at them.
  • Keep finding people who excel, with love, at something worthwhile, and
  • Keep learning from them.
  • Keep on keeping on, and
  • Keep repeating perfectly normal words until they look strange.