Recognizing myself, again

A year ago, I wrote these words of hope on the eve of my 45th birthday …

I look down at my hand and wonder what it will look like in another 45 years. Will it recite the stories of my hard work? Will it show the lines of caring for those I love? Will it tell me that I’ve done my best? Will it look like the hand of the man, the human, I want to be?

I sit here on the day of my 46th, knowing that I didn’t do my best at 45. I wasn’t the human I wanted to be. I let circumstance and the actions of others control me. I let anger and frustration get the best of me. From the grand stage of national news to the most intimate moments of my personal life, most of my year was spent in reaction instead of intent. I felt like a prize fighter swinging out of desperation, punch drunk by a volley of shots to the head, unsure if my corner of retreat existed any longer.

I no longer saw the future clearly.

My country felt upside-down and inside-out. I made the difficult decision to walk away from a relationship that I believed was my present and future, but that had become painfully untenable.

I still functioned in my job and as a father, and did my best to give the rest of the world a polished version of me. In my worst moments, I became unrecognizable even to myself.


I found respite along country roads as the days came to an end. Chasing the sky became my obsession, a way to find beauty in my tumultuous, sometimes tortuous days. Sunsets were my salve, my signature on the day. They became a signal to me that I’d get a chance to do better tomorrow. I found a new peace that often accompanied me on these trips, one that reminded me to be gentle and patient with myself.  I found a renewed joy when I shared the skies with others.

I started to recognize myself again as I chased the sky. I share beauty. It’s who I am, it’s what I do.

Last Saturday, my friends Matt & Brie got married. During the reception, Brie got up to thank those who’d traveled to southern Illinois to celebrate. When she turned to our table, she addressed me by name.

“Thank you for opening our world in so many ways and being a mentor to Matt.”

Brie’s words were as touching as they were unexpected. As they rolled around my head and heart, I recognized myself even more. I see potential in people that they may not even see in themselves. It’s who I am, it’s what I do.

I always get reflective on my birthday. I’m overjoyed that in that reflection, I’m slowly recognizing myself, again.

What I said last year still applies …

Here’s to a new year, a good year, another chance to do it right.




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