“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.” A. Einstein

The first essay in this new year should be a song of unending optimism, right? In our conversation we each state all of our hard-line convictions to change for the better, how THIS is year we finally build those ab muscles and end the dance with alcohol that has lead to so very many poor decisions. We grasp one another’s shoulders, look squarely into one another’s eyes and pledge loyalty to the big goals then head out to the store and delusionaly buy some quinoa and kale.

And a week later, we’re wiping the kisses from pepperoni off of our cheeks, staring into the mirror/abyss, the disappointment in our eyes evident. Those eyes tell a story far more sad than a shameful food binge. They reflect greater disappointment in our own choices, in our status, in the many hurts we know. Why am I HERE when I want to be THERE? So we jump on social media, Pinning our favorite recipes/inspirational quotes, we take to proclaiming our full hearts on Facebook, we tweet righteous snark in 140 characters and we Instagram joyous moments passing us by because we’re all too busy capturing that perfect picture of ourselves. And life tumbles forward for another year, with a sense of ache deep within that we’re not truly LIVING. Or APPRECIATING. Or FAILING. Yes, failing. We need to fail for growth to occur. Easy success breeds complacency and entitlement. Of course, by that measure, I should be the most grown-individual on the block, but that’s another story. We don’t WANT to embrace failure, because we fear the judgement of our peers and family. I know I do. And that very same fear has allowed me to accept vanilla as an approach to life, when every fiber of my soul rebels against a vanilla existence.

It turns out, however, that chaos is my flavor; I just have learned to not let it dictate my every decision. So that is my challenge to me and to you. Find your flavor, find what feeds your soul and nurture THAT.

What is your flavor in 2016? Who are you? I mean, really……who ARE you? If your soul finds contentment in the routine of a vanilla existence, then by all means, I will support you wholeheartedly in your attempt to maintain control and regularity to your day. I will also buy you Ex-Lax as a gag gift to promote said regularity and then laugh at my own joke like an idiot. Truthfully though, people who have that balanced quality are stalwarts of our community, dependable folks who just really want life to stay on the rails and I applaud and respect their course. I envy their satisfaction at the status quo. That’s just not my flavor.

I need to push myself beyond those limits. I like loud. I like real people feeling real emotions, much more than a “sup?” or “I’m fine” response to an inquiry about your life. Fail with me, I’ll cry with you, we’ll kick life in the grapes together, but for God’s sake be REAL. For real.  I NEED the chaos of creativity. I need passion. I need banter, lots of it, where the idea factory runs all three shifts and my soul gets recharged. In 2015 I embraced the need for change, deep change, and the result of that was scary, lonely and beautiful all in the same breath. Relationships were shaken to the core and many were put on the shelf as a memory to be treasured but gone. I learned the dangerous power that ego and expectation hold over us; daily, I attempt to let go of both, because how can we gain peace with such toxic sidekicks? We can’t.

So my first essay isn’t a song of false hope for the new year. It is a promise to you, though. That promise is that as we plow through 2016 with pepperoni on our faces, I will be here with you. I will fail, I will fall, I will say stupid things that I regret, and I will grow. We both will, you and I. To paraphrase something I ripped off from someone, it is simple; it is not EASY, but it is simple. Let’s shuck those paradigms that lead us to believe in the worst versions of ourselves. I want you to see the you I see when I see you, not those negative pieces we all fixate on when we look in that mirror. Of COURSE this shit is terrifying, all growth is, because we’re leaving the comfort of past experience, even if it is a negative one. Get that tattoo. Tell her you love her without expecting to hear it in return. Embrace your inner weirdo, let her walk around for a while in public. Create something without the hope that others love it, and by extension, love you. Don’t give the rumor mill the power of truth. Discover who your people are, what tribe you belong to, even if it means that you have to let go of relationships from your past. Build a shelf for someone, build SOMEthing that you can’t buy, then give it away. Build a shelf for yourself, and daily, put your ego on it and walk away. Give expectation some walking papers and suspend your assumptions. Believe in the truths that you KNOW and not the myths your beautiful mind constructs in the absence of fact. Take my hand and we’ll forge forward, through failure and tears and smiles that come from the soul.

It’s all relative. Jump with Me 2