Twelve years ago, I was standing just eighteen rows, left of center stage at the Billy Joel Millennium Concert. As I stood in the center of the universe on December 31, 1999, I took stock of my life. I was thirty years old. My beautiful wife was standing next to me and I was on top of the world. We had bought our first home, she was just named the Director of Social Services at a local nonprofit and I was the Chief Executive Officer of the organization I oversaw.
As Billy Joel sang the final bars of “Two Thousand Years” and we counted down the seconds to the year 2000, the world was my oyster. As the ball in Times Square finally dropped on the Jumbotron, I kissed my wife and sang “Auld Lang Syne” along with twenty thousand fanatical fans. And in that moment, as I stood there singing along with the crowd in the middle of Madison Square Garden, I briefly asked myself, “How did I get here?!”
As Billy Joel went right into “The River of Dreams,” the fleeting question passed. It didn’t matter. The past decade had been a great one and I was poised to embrace a new millennium filled with new possibilities. Our biggest concern that night was whether or not the Y2K bug was going to wreak havoc on the world and judging from where I was standing, I wasn’t too concerned about it.
Last Saturday night, I was sitting eighteen feet, left of center of my television stand, as I watched Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on ABC. As I sat in the center of my living room on December 31, 2011, I took stock of my life. I was a dozen years older. My beautiful wife was sitting next to me, half asleep, while our children slept quietly in their warm beds upstairs and somehow, I was still on top of the world; as strange a new world as it is these days. We don’t own a house, Stephanie is a Social Worker with the County Schools and I am the owner of my own fledgling small business.
2011 was a strange year. It was a year filled with endless possibilities and a year filled with many disappointments. There were so many laughs and great times that were had with so many of you and then again, my heart ached for the struggles of so many of my family members and friends who have faced so many difficult life changes. It was a year where for every smile that sprinkled the horizon of the morning sunrise; there was a tear to be shed at sunset.
So as the clock wound down on December 31, 2011; I eerily asked myself that twelve year old question that had been wandering aimlessly through my subconscious, “How did I get here?”
I have buried too many good people in the past dozen years. I have said goodbye to too many wonderful friends as life has taken all of us on our own journeys across the span of the globe. I have experienced the peaks and the valleys that the pathway of life has taken my family across. I have laughed, I have cried, I have been a part of life changing greatness and I have sat at the ruins of sheer miscalculation.
But through it all, what made all of it absolutely spectacular was the people I met along the way. To my friends, family members, the people I worked with, the people I worked for and the people I have given every ounce of my heart and soul to create a better world for; thank you! So many of you have touched my life in profound ways and I will never be able to personally thank you all.
I remember wondering what the words to “Auld Lang Syne” actually meant when I was younger. I think we all have had that comical conversation where we try to decipher the cryptic meaning ensconced upon those wonderful eight lines of lyrics that we all sing every New Year’s Eve. But until we actually experience life, how could any of us truly know what those heartfelt words actually mean?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!
So as I face 2012 with great excitement, I want to dedicate those words to so many of you who have touched my life. For my grade school, high school and college friends, my work colleagues, my New York City, Boston, Connecticut, Rhode island, California, Pineapple House and the Hayes Road brothers and sisters in arms, as well as every stop along the way in between; God Bless you all! At times, it feels like the years and the distances grow farther and farther apart but the memories will remain aglow and melt my heart forever.
So, “How did I get here?” This time, the answer is simple; it doesn’t matter how I got here. God wants me and my beautiful family here. The how and why doesn’t matter. We just need a cup of kindness, love, family, God and compassion. The rest of it is just “For auld lang syne!”
May 2012 bring you all peace, love, wisdom, health, prosperity and God’s loving grace.
God bless you all and Happy New Year!