I began 2017 with a tremendous sense of hope and optimism (ignoring national politics here). Over the course of the next few months, I hoped to take on more responsibility at work, begin my time as the President of the Rotary Club of Kent, deepen my commitment to the men of Pi Kappa Alpha at the University of Washington, as well as my fellow board members at the South King Council of Human Services. On the personal side, I was hoping Brandon would find something he could love as a career. I committed myself to the idea of strengthening our relationship, pulling friends closer, and spending more quality time with my family. All of this was part of the plan. What’s the old phrase? “The best-laid plans often go awry.”
12 months later, I am writing this annual letter from Los Angeles, CA where it is currently 85 degrees in December. If you asked me on January 1st if I saw myself here, I couldn’t have given you a clear answer, but my mind would have drifted toward, “not possible.” Yet, here I am and here we are. Our best-laid plans went awry, and life presented a new and exciting opportunity to call a new place home.
As another year comes to a close, I am forced to look into the rearview mirror. I have learned so much about myself, my relationship, my friends, and my family in the past 12 months. With that education, comes things I hold true. In no certain order…
Without a shadow of a doubt, Seattle is where I will make my final stand. I have been lucky in my life to call lots of places home: Frederick, Edmond, Kent, Seattle, and now North Hollywood. Frederick is home. Edmond was for education. Kent/Seattle was an escape. North Hollywood is an illusion; something we aren’t meant to hold forever. Of all the places I have ever lived, I felt most comfortable in Seattle. I felt like the truest version of myself there. Now, make no mistake, I am loving LA so far. The weather is summer all year long and there is an endless amount of stuff to keep me entertained. Still, this isn’t home. The mountains, streams, and trees of Washington is where I belong.
At this moment, I am doing my best work. Five days a week, I ride a bus through Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. Everywhere I look, I see people who are chronically homeless. Every single day, my privilege is challenged. Every day, I remind myself not to take my blessings lightly. This has forced a realization. Despite my passions for film and writing, the nonprofit sector is where I am supposed to be. My talents are best used here for assisting my fellow man. I don’t say this to disparage those who choose to pursue work in the public or for-profit sector. Nonprofit work doesn’t exist without these people. I say this as a personal matter of fact. I also say this for comfort. It feels amazing to say at the age of 34, I know what I want to do with the rest of my life. The job titles may change but this is the work I am meant to do.
Hopefully, we all believe our relationships to be the best in the world. We all deserve to be with someone who makes us feel this way. I wouldn’t dare try to convince you of my relationship’s superiority over yours or anyone else. What I do know is this, I have never been in a relationship this amazing, inspiring, and loving. We are not perfect, and we fail each other often. Still, we press forward and after almost three years together I am absolutely positive this is the person I want to spend the rest of my life getting to know. After 34 years, it feels freeing to know this to be true.
Finally, to some of the most important people in my life; my family and friends. One of my favorite Pearl Jam songs is called, “Just Breathe.” On it, Eddie Vedder sings…
“Yeah I'm a lucky man
To count on both hands
The ones I love
Some folks just have one
Yeah others they got none”
If you want to see who loves you, move. If you want to see who values your friendship, move. If you want to test the strength of your family bonds, move. If you want to gain more wisdom from your parents than you thought possible, move. Nothing in life tests the strength of relationships like distance. Those who add value to our lives remain and they withstand the test of time. I consider myself a lucky man because I can count on two hands, two feet, and several other hands and feet the people I adore. We may not talk every day. Text message and social media may keep us together. Yet, we remain and their love radiates throughout my world. For that love, I am eternally grateful and beyond motivated to take on the year ahead.
Be good to each other,
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