This month it's really hard not to play the "last year" game. You know, this time last year I was in this place, doing this thing.
October 2009 was a really great month. I mean extraordinarily, once in a lifetime, beyond my wildest expectations great. Exactly a month ago to this day I was in Ko Phi Phi, Thailand-a place so beautiful sometimes I can't convince myself it really existed, that it wasn't just some vivid, colorful mirage invented out of thin air, a place that I could search for years to find and never locate. When Friday rolls around, I can say that a year ago I was in Malaysia, in Little India maybe, where in moments a bustling market turned into the stillest, most serene silence as men and women all around us knelt down on the street to pray. It's hard not to play this game, and it's equally hard not to get bummed out playing it, because well, life was pretty, unequivocally beautiful a year ago.
But then I was thinking, I had a lot a year ago. I had the world and it seemed that I could close my eyes, make a wish to go somewhere, and there I would be. I had life piled on life, swimming and rock climbing and snorkeling with Nemo fish. But there were things then I didn't have that I have now, today, this October of 2010.
A year ago I didn't know my niece. It seems crazy to think that; someone who today I love with every ounce of my soul didn't even exist a year ago. A year ago she was just an idea, the possibility of a person. And today she's introduced me to a way of loving someone I didn't understand before, loving someone not just for who they are but for who they will and can be.
A year ago Haiti was only a place name, a vague picture in my head. A year ago I hadn't looked into an orphan's eyes in a small, cramped room, and seen not devastation or misery, but trust. I hadn't worked side by side with people who had every reason to never get up again, but who day after day got up, faced difficulty beyond anything I can imagine, and lived.
A year ago I thought life after college was fairly simple. Pick a job, apply for said job, and the rest would fall into place. I thought my life was more or less decided. A year ago I had no idea that I would come home and face a solid ten months of rejection after rejection, rejection by phone, rejection by email, rejection by carrier pigeon, skywriting. More importantly a year ago I would never have known that after rejection and failure so complete and total that it would leave me numb and broken, I would have the ability to stand up and start all over again.
A year ago life was pretty wonderful. And of course I wish I could go back to those places, see those clear waters and green, terraced fields again. But if the only way I could go back there was to give up this past year, a year that was without question the hardest in my life, I know I would never do it.