Goodbye 2014

As I sit on the edge of another new year, I have two thoughts running through my head; 1. this year went by so fast, and 2. this was a good year.

I think number one is the easiest to deal with because, lets face it, you can’t stop time. You can’t freeze it. You can’t even slow it down. No matter how much you resist, time marches on, so we all might as well flow with it. When I was a child I would hear people say, “The older you get, the faster time goes.” I didn’t understand until a few years ago. These people would be right. That’s why I believe we should live every moment we have to it’s fullest and cherish every experience. I’ve learned this is the best way to live. Resisting the inevitable is a waste of time. Whether we resist or not time always go forward, never back, so we might as live while we have the chance.

The second thought, well, that’s a little more complicated. When I think about all the things that happened this past year, I’m overwhelmed, excited, thankful. Of course everything wasn’t perfect. It was a year of obstacles and struggle, of joy and excitement, but, to me, there has to be a little of both. That’s what creates a balance. Without the negative you will never learn (and life is an ongoing lesson) and never appreciate the positive. So, yes, overall it was a good year.
I could go on for pages about all the great things that happened this year, but, don’t worry, I won’t do that to you. I’ll just pick out a few moments that stand out in my mind.

SwitchfootI went to see a band I like at a venue walking distance from my house (Switchfoot…maybe you’ve heard of them, but if not I suggest you give them a listen). Yes, I walked. And, yes, Mother Nature was nice enough to keep snow on the ground and temperatures below the 50s with a strong wind. I stood outside for hours; coat, hat, gloves, scarf. You might think it was still the middle of winter, instead of the end of March. I tried standing in the sun and it helped, sort of, but once your toes, legs and fingers freeze it doesn’t really matter because you can’t feel them anyway.

Now, some of you might think I’m a little crazy for standing out there in the cold. Well, I didn’t know it was going to be so cold. Besides, and be honest, how many of you have done the same thing for one reason or another?

Luckily I had a V.I.P. pass and was able to escape the cold for a little while. A group of us were let in for sound check and a meet and greet with the band.

I want to take a moment to say that, at a certain point, it’s not about the stuff. It’s not about access to sound check or a signed poster or a picture with the band, at least not to me. Sure those things are cool and I’m not denying I don’t enjoy them, but there’s more to it. It only takes meeting these guys once to see how down-to-earth and genuine they are, and that meeting happened for me when I was sixteen. So now it’s just about the conversation. I love talking to them and feel like I could do so for hours. Of course I sometimes begin questions with “It might be weird, but…” or “Would it be weird if…” (sorry Jon).

So here I am, standing outside freezing at the end of March. Despite the gloves, my hands were still cold, so when I met the guys (again, for the fourth time) I apologized for the cold hands. One of them asked if they could call me “Nic-cold.” I said sure and laughed. (By the way, Drew, if you ever happen to read this I just want to let you know that this nickname caught on, somehow. And, yes, I’m still laughing. I guess we all have out nicknames, huh, Dr.ew?)

Standing in the cold all that time with toes and fingers freezing and legs going numb, well, yes, it was all worth it (and I’d do it again too). Once the concert started and the music flowed through the speakers and into the crowd, I was captivated (as usual) and everything else faded away.

Over the summer I made my annual trip to Ocean City, NJ. For the last several years it’s become tradition and I look forward to it every summer. I love the beach, the ocean. It’s one of those feelings I can’t quite put into words, but there’s something soothing about listing to the rhythmic breathing of the waves.

Another beach trip? Yes, please. I’ll never turn down a chance to be by the ocean. This little adventure took me to Maine. It took me kayaking for the first time. It took me on photographic explorations. It took me to the beach and back to the ocean. And I enjoyed every second of it.

The hotel room faced the ocean and with the windows open all day and all night, I could hear the water rushing for the shore and then receding. At night it was peaceful, laying in bed with the sound of the ocean echoing in my ears. It was at these times I felt something special, or magical, was happening. Again, I can’t explain it, but if you’ve ever heard the ocean at night then you might know what I mean.

I went down to the beach every morning with my camera. It was deserted, everyone still sleeping. Every now and then someone would come down with there dog, but most mornings I had the beach to myself. I snapped a few pictures of the Sunset IIwaves barreling toward the shore, of the jetty, of the stones scattered in the sand, but then I would go back to walking the beach. I put my feet in the water almost every morning, knowing it would be cold, so cold, but I loved how it felt as it washed over my feet. I loved the ocean breeze and the smell of the salty air. I loved the peace that it brought me.

The ocean does something to me. I swear it has some strange power of me. When I’m away, I want to be near it and when I’m near it I always want to be in it. I want to feel the water running over my feet. I want to feel the wind on my face and smell the saltwater in the air. I hear the ocean calling my name and, when I can break away from work and my other responsibilities, that’s usually where I go.

How many others feel captivated by the ocean?

Yet another concert? The same band as in March? Another road trip? Another adventure? Yes, absolutely, to all the above.Switchfoot

Turns out I drove two and a half hours to see Switchfoot (again, for the sixth time) and it was totally worth it. There were a lot of great things that came out of this; a new concert friend (hi Alex), good conversation with guys (thank you!), a great show (as always) and possibly some of the best pictures I’ve ever taken (although, I’ve photographed so many different shows it’s hard to say for certain), but I’m not going to talk about any of these in detail. Instead I would like to discuss the after show.

I was hoping for one, an after show, and apparently a lot of other people were too. A big group of us went around the corner and stood in front of the bus after the concert. We just stood there, in the cold, patiently waiting. After a few minutes a small group started singing. Before I knew what was happening we were all swept up into song and began singing “Hello Hurricane.” It was incredible. An entire group of strangers were united, if only for a little while, by their common love for music. This amazing moment was followed by another and another and yes, if you’re wondering, Jon did do an after show (thank you!).

I love this time of year. The snow, the sledding the hot cocoa, the warm fuzzy scarfs, the Christmas cookies, gingerbread, decorating the Christmas tree, all the pretty lights, building snowmen, having a snowball fight and going on winter walks are just some of the things that put me in the winter spirit. Everything is bursting with the joy of the holiday season.

When I was a kid this time of year was all about the presents. The anticipation of ripping off the wrapping and seeing what was inside on Christmas Day would keep me up almost all night. Every little kid wants to know what Santa brought them. Didn’t you?

Things are different now that I’m older. Now I like buying the presents. I like doing things for people and making them happy. The season is still about all the things I mentioned above, but now the list included spending time with friends and family. I find every moment I spend with my family special and Christmas is one of the most special times of the year.

There are so many more things that came out of 2014 then mentioned here. So many more detail, so many more things that I did, so many new adventures, so many more places I went and people I met, but its time to wrap this post up. In closing I would like to say, thank you 2014. You gave me many great moment and made me learn from the bad and painful ones. You filled my life with joy and sadness, but in the end I can say I lived every moment. In the end, I can say, overall, 2014 was a good year.

How will you remember 2014?


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