I see you over there, calendar. Littered with hash marks, ticking off the days. In what feels like the blink of an eye, another year will be here.
The years that have preceded you have each come with their own little earthquakes. Really. From 18 until now, I can look back and see one - if not more - major seismic shifts that hit with annual regularity. Some good, some heartbreaking, some pushes in the right direction, some free falls off a cliff.
Each year a mile marker on this journey of life. The ones at the start are still somewhat pristine, their innocence never having weathered a major storm and becoming tarnished. The ones that lie directly behind me, however, have chips, scratches, and show the sign of having stood in the midst of chaos for a year.
They all have strong roots. That's why they - and I - have never fallen. They are planted firmly in the ground.
My journey has taken me to this point where there are an equal number of miles to go that lie before me as what lie behind me, if not with the possibility of less before me than behind. And that's okay. It's not scary. It's a challenge to take those remaining miles and make of them something amazing. Something spectacular, to be found in the mundane every day rituals of life.
Every smile needs to count. Every moment of choosing peace over frustration or anger needs to count. Every moment when I have the chance to play on the floor with my family needs to count. Every quiet moment on the couch at night needs to count. Every meal I fix with a flourish, ignoring recipes and directions, needs to count. Every leaf I see falling, every sunrise and sunset I view, every breeze of wind that stirs the ground before me needs to count.
Every beer I enjoy. Every word I write. Every sentence I utter. These should count only if with friends and family who count. They should not be for my glory, but for my community.
Forty-four isn't a scary age. Trying to mentally see that many candles on a cake is, but that's why I like cupcakes.
Each one counts. Each one is unique, each one is to be tasted separately.
Like every day in life.
So raise a pint with me. Raise a mug of coffee with me. Raise your eyes. Raise your heart.