The Christmas holiday season has once more come to an end as another year slowly fades away. Following the excitement-filled trip earlier this month, my actual holiday was extremely subdued. In Victorian times, Christmas (not Halloween) was a time to tell ghost stories. While I did pass some of the 25th reading about haunted places, there was a larger shadow looming over the day. The ghost of 2010.
Everyone is haunted. It may not be my a specter making its presence known in your house or workplace, or even a chance encounter somewhere in the world. It's the memories of what we have and haven't done which can keep us awake at night or bring a smile to our faces seemingly for no reason at all. For me 2010 was yet another tumultuous year or changes, experiences, and chances. I've looked out across the Pacific from both sides. I've pushed myself to achieve and let fear come in the way of new possibilities. I set out to fulfill a few dreams and didn't let anything stop me. And I've closed a few doors that were necessary for my own well-being. It's hard to fathom everything that has happened. In the past two years I've felt more alive than I allowed myself to be for quite some time.
As always, there are some regrets. A life lived without any regret is nearly impossible. Everything we do requires making decisions and choosing one path over another. Unless we settle into a mundane, constant routine without wavering even the slightest bit life is a journey not an observation. The more we forge ahead and blaze new trails, the more frightening and uncertain it becomes. I made a decision that my life should be an exploration fraught with challenges and new experiences. Not every one has been pleasant but I wouldn't change my decisions for the world. It's an indescribable feeling to be in a situation you've played out in thoughts and imagination many times and think, "Wait a minute. This is really happening. Wow."
Already, 2011 is going to be another year of continued growth and adventure. In just a few more weeks I'm starting back at my old university, finally taking steps toward a degree I've postponed for so many years now. And in my mind I have tentative travel plans to a few selected places, some of which will hopefully happen. Travel is one of my biggest driving forces in life. It's not enough to sit back and read about the world. I want to engulf my senses in foreign lands, dine with the natives, and absorb everything imaginable. Even with the paranormal I need to see, feel, and hear the sounds of those places that for so long have been notes scribbled on paper or flat photographs on a screen.
If I have one wish for 2011 it's that more people do the same. Yes, these are uncertain times for many of us. Life can become a challenge just living day to day. But nothing is impossible. With enough desire and creative calculations, all of us can make small steps at making our lives exactly what we want them to be. Dreams aren't just silly thoughts to be cast aside or ground out by harsh realities. They are points on a map that require careful navigations. No ambition is too silly or absurd. Often the biggest obstacle for us is believing others when they tell us our dreams are impossible, stupid, or unrealistic. Doubt is a powerful force. And too often it leads to stagnation and forfeiture.
We can learn a lot about life from the lives of those who passed away and perhaps even haunt the buildings and houses in your neighborhood. Great things have been accomplished by people we've never even heard of. Not every ghost story is a lamentable tale of regret or self-imprisonment. Some spirits have lived more than we could ever imagine. Don't allow the dead to have more life than you. Remember that where you are is only the smallest speck on a huge sphere whirling around at 600 mph. There's so much life out there, so much to interact with. Don't wait for life to come to you. It's all around, waiting for you to take notice.