The yearly review. It's a time, just before the New Year, the chronological changing of the guard, that some people reflect on where they've been and what they've done over the preceding 12 months. Every night before I go to sleep, I review my day, thinking about what I did, how I feel about it, what was said, what tomorrow might bring, what I missed and whether I feel good about the day or not. My Year End Review is much the same.
This last year I almost became a millionaire, worked as the Senior Graphics and Web Designer for a company, delivered pizzas, had a girlfriend a decade younger than me, started a new novel, bid my girlfriend goodbye as she went on to move forward in life, worked as a host at a resturant, watched the birth of a war, went to a wedding, moved, shaved my head, regrew my hair, threatened a few bums, wasted lots of time, won a pool tournament, went on vacation, struggled with gastritis some more, defended my religion, read a shitload of books, grew as a graphic artist, closed a business, got fired, gained weight, lost weight, made new friends and learned how to let go of other people's problems.
I also survived.
I graduated from high school in the Class of '92, on May 29th. At the time I was living in Dallas, but had chosen to spend my graduation in Chicago. I had gone to Wilmette, IL, where the Baha'i House of Worship was located, to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime event: the 100th Anniversary of the Ascension of Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i Faith. Graduating from high school happens only once in a lifetime, too, but I decided that paying homage to God was more important than reveling in my success as a student (and it turned out that my success as a student wasn't 100%- I still had to go to summer school to qualify for my diploma and complete my math credits). The kicker was that May 29th is also my birthday, it was my 19-year celebration, and I couldn't think of a better way to spend it than with other Baha'is.
When I'd gotten to Chicago, I was offered an incredible opportunity. The sound engineer for the night's activities had fallen ill and no one knew enough about sound engineering to cover for him. My dad is a country music star, or was at the time, and everyone there knew it because celebrity Baha'is are hard to come by. I had spent hundreds of hours in the studio, even helping mix a few of his songs on some albums. I knew how to master a sound board. The director for the night's activities knew this also, since he lived in the same town as my dad just outside of Nashville, so he asked me if I would like to be the sound engineer that night. I humbly accepted, astonished to realize that I was not only going to witness this singular event, but I was going to contribute to it from behind the scenes. What a birthday present, eh? I think that was my first real understanding of how karma works. I'd made a personal sacrifice, to forego my graduation ceremony, only to be given the wonderous gift of being a part of something greater than myself.
I focused all of my attention on the sound board that night and didn't make a single mistake, didn't allow myself to be distracted by anything. No feedback squeals, no sound-outs, no high-level peaks- nothing went wrong at all. That night the American Baha'is had the chance to see the only photograph of Baha'u'llah known to exist, sent over from Haifa, Israel. I had been so centered on making sure that the sound was perfect that I almost didn't get to see the picture of my religion's founder. Some 20,000 people saw that picture before me, over a period of 8 hours. I was the very last person to see it and actually closed the clasp of the lock-box it was sent in, before it was put away and sent back to Haifa.
My high school reunion will be coming up soon, sometime in 2002. Ten years have gone by. I haven't written the Great American Novel. I haven't gotten married or had kids. I've merely grown up a bit. Where do I go from here? What are my life's accomplishments?