Matchbook

Birthday-DogI was recently talking to a friend about birthdays. I’m usually one to not care too terribly much about my birthday. I don’t like to be the center of attention or make a big deal out of nothing. But this friend of mine said she approaches birthdays in a different way. It’s more of a reflective day for her. She re-evaluates where she is in life and where she wants to be. Or to use a Bouncing Souls lyric, “Who am, who I was, and who I want to be.” I liked this notion, and based the past year, I thought I would take this approach with my upcoming birthday.

I haven’t tried to hide the fact that 2014 was miserable. With all the pain and awful uncertainty, I can say it was the worst year of my life. A few years ago someone turned me on to the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl. I have read it a couple of times and often refer back to it at various times in my life. So as I try to make sense of the past year I look at this passage: “What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you. Not only our experiences, but all we have done, whatever great thoughts we may have had, and all we have suffered, all this is not lost, though it has past; we have brought it into being. Having been is also a kind of being, and perhaps the surest kind.”

I don’t look back on the pain and suffering I went through in a completely negative light. I look at it and realize that it was something I needed to go through. Something that would ultimately shape my life. Yes, I did hurt and was miserable, but that all passed and I came out better than I was before. I don’t know if this is a saying or if I’m making it up, but you have to find your weakest before you can be your strongest.

This past year forced me to take a good hard look at my health. Not just the unavoidable disease that decided to take up residence in my intestines, but my overall health. I changed my diet, and it has been great; I’ve cut out alcohol, which has been unbelievably amazing; and at the encouragement of Jon, I have taken up yoga. I never thought I would be able to describe myself as a gluten-free, straight edge, yoga guy, but here I am. Even better is that I like this version of me.

That covers the “who am and who I was,” so what about the “who I want to be?” I want to refer to another notion put forth by Viktor Frankl. He said that many of us ask ourselves, “What do I expect from life?” But we should be asking, “What does life expect from me?” This has been something kicking around my head now for years. It has felt like something I needed to figure out. Something I would ask myself every morning.

I kept thinking it had to be something grandiose, like something I was meant to do with my life, my own WayneStock if you will. And while I think I have figured out something along those lines. A future goal. What has occurred to me is that maybe I need to focus this in and think a bit smaller. I realized that what life expects from me is for me to just be the best Jason I can be. To put on my usual bright disposition and do what I can to bring joy to those I care about. I can do that. I want to do that. I will do that. In the words of Tony Sly, “I will live for the sake of others so they can do the same.”

I’ve seen where I have been. That road has lead me here. I can’t see where I’m going, but I have the tools to light the way and trudge a path. So with confidence and optimism I will go forth another year older and wiser, and I ain’t worried, about a god damned thing.

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