What I’m Thankful For (2011): The Year of Magical Thinking

Another shot from this morning: Boats on the Water

My life changes so quickly that I frequently feel as though I’m breathlessly trying and failing to catch up. This year has been a year of change and of endings. If I could use one Youtube video to sum up and evoke my life, it would be that HBO promo of Tony Soprano, overlooking the ocean as he contemplates his entire existence coming to a head:

This year, jobs have ended. Relationships have ended. School has ended. Virtually every significant element of my life has undergone some irrevocable change. It has been a year of loss, and I face a future full of uncertainty.

Simultaneously, I’ve also had so many blessings this year:

It has been a year of amazing times, of great challenges, and of personal and professional growth. While many of the above things were done through sheer force of will, I would be lost without those who have supported me during this challenging time. Through late night phone conversations, relentless encouragement, and stunning self-sacrifice, my friends around me have helped me in immeasurable ways. You know who you are.

I am eternally grateful to those who have volunteered their time (and their posing) this year to help me become a better photographer. Together, I believe we’ve made some great art. Thanks for your patience and for your support.

But in addition to my “offline” friends, I continue to be thankful for my online colleagues, who have continued to stimulate my mind and support me in all that I do. You have heartened me so much and given me the strength to keep going.

And as usual, I remain grateful to you, the reader, listener, Tweeter, Facebooker, and enabler of all my online adventures. Thanks for your continued readership, listenership, and support. I certainly would not be where I am without you.

The future could not be less clear these days, and I am not sure where I will be one year from today. But today, right now, I’m grateful to be surrounded by the love of family and of friends. It is truly all I need.

What I’m Thankful For (2010)

The Great Smoky Mountains

I’m pretty sure I spent most of the past year not really believing that second chances were possible, or (quite frankly) that my life, as currently constituted, was worth living.

And while I can’t say I’ve been completely pulled out of that darkness yet, I can say I’ve been pulled back from the brink.

If there is one word that can sum up the past 12 months since my last Thanksgiving post, it would be “change.” And while i didn’t believe the highs and lows in my life would get anymore extreme, this year has in fact brought with it a series of events so bizarre and unexpected that i haven’t been able to step back and recover from the madness until today. Sometimes, life whisks you along through breathless turns, and the most you can hope to do is hang on, try to enjoy the ride, and pray to God your appendages are still attached when the dust is settled. Maybe that’s all I’ve been able to manage this year. I think that, on the journey from darkness to light, I’m maybe about halfway there.

Despite the events that have ripped into my emotional well-being, there have also been so many encouraging developments that I can’t help but be grateful. I work two jobs; one in education and one in the online film world. Both are difficult to obtain and afford me a number of benefits that are the envy of many citizens. For the first time in my life this year, I was accepted into a Harvard educational institution. This has brought my family great pride and joy. I am surrounded by wonderful people in both areas of my life. And while stress threatens to completely destroy my life on an almost daily basis, I really wouldn’t have it any other way. As George Clooney once famously put it, “We are not swans. We are sharks.” And sharks thrive on constant motion.

Last year, I listed a bunch of people and things I’m thankful for. All those sentiments are still true. It would be redundant to just repeat everything again, but it really is a mostly-accurate representation of how I feel today. Nonetheless, I wanted to quickly re-iterate some of them, while adding a few others, lest I forget the goodness in my life. Here is what I’m grateful for:

For Matt – For his valuable friendship, his deep understanding, his giving heart, and his unstoppable passion for telling stories. Our meeting has perhaps been the best thing to come out of these past few years. 

For Chi – For her continued patience with me, even as she enters a whole new phase of her life.

For my brother, Mike – For the ways in which he inspires me with his non-stop hard work, and the way he makes me laugh with his over-the-top no-nonsense attitude.

For Linda – For her kindness and companionship, which have been a valuable comfort as of late.

For Stephen Tobolowsky – For the stories, the profundity, the memories, the laughs, the tears that he has brought into this world, and that I have helped to facilitate. For giving me something to be proud of helping to create. Truly, I feel we are at the beginning of something amazing, and not the end.

For Lily – For her compassion, and for reaching out to me under circumstances where few would have dared.

For Deirdre – For her friendship and random acts of kindness.

For Mydhili – Because she is too cool for school. Also, her name is awesome. Seriously though: When people arrive at a new country and at a new school, the process by which they become friends with others can often feel random. I’m grateful that our friendship has somehow emerged newly from this selection process.

For people like Mary HK Choi, Matt Zoller Seitz, Myles McNutt, Alan Sepinwall, Adam Kempenaar, Alison Willmore, Dan Trachtenberg, Jeff Cannata, Matt Singer, Tasha Robinson, Eric D. Snider, Clay Shirky, Bob Garfield, Brooke Gladstone, Kim Masters, Maria Popova, and Katey Rich (and too many more than I can name here) – You inspire me with your writing/broadcasting. And with a few of you, I’ve been honored to meet and chat with you in the past year, and honored to call myself your friend. The pleasure has been mine.

For Instapaper + my Kindle – Because it has changed the way I read and (arguably) made me smarter.

For Sara – Because she shows me what is possible.

For Garron – Because his generosity and cooking skills know no bounds.

For Angie – For listening to my crazed ramblings when I need to be listened to the most.

For Bob and Jeff – For helping me to laugh with life. And for supporting me and giving me good advice when the time is right.

For everyone at /Film -From Peter, who makes everything possible (but I’m also grateful for his friendship), to Devindra and Adam, who constantly surprise me with their insights into film, to Germain, Russ, and Chris, who constantly churn out interesting and informative content. I can honestly say I’m proud to work for this organization, but I know that there is still much work to do.

For Salon – Because if you look beyond their ultra-left leaning views, you’ll find stories about life and stories about love, written with such honesty and grace that they can’t help but inspire some kind of admiration.

Again, for you – For reading, for listening, for engaging. For making what I do possible. For giving me the strength to keep going. Thanks all. Until next year…