2011 was good to me. It was also my strangest year to date, which is how I measure success. I believe that if I'm living my life the way I should, the best year of my life will always be the last one that I lived. "Best year" doesn't mean that all of my hopes and dreams have come true. And a year where all of my hopes and dreams have come true wouldn't necessarily be my best, but perhaps just be my most unexpected one. Best year for me doesn't mean that everything was peachy. And in fact, for a best year to happen, things probably can't be all peachy. That's because a best year is one full of personal growth and change, variety, accomplishment on both a macro and micro-level, and an endless string of bizarre experiences to relay to you. And by that standard, 2011 has easily been my best year to date.
In 2011 I read books and took naps in European parks. I slept in the homes of people I found online, sometimes in their beds. I accidentally wandered into Harlem on a dreary Sunday morning. I passed the bar. I coached a track team of best friends. I ran a marathon without slowing to a crawl by the end. I forced my family into a five mile Thanksgiving walk. I made my niece hate Thanksgiving. I resurrected the Queen of Colors after two decades of silence. I registered for an Ironman in a moment of panic. I frantically started learning how to swim. I got frustrated, a lot. I salsa danced at an outdoor art festival. I almost threw up at a state fair. I got creeped out at Auschwitz. I weathered a rainstorm in Prague. I built a fire in Austria, but didn't do a very good job. I played poker under church pillars in Pisa at midnight. I spoke to blinding lights and crying babies at my law school graduation. I competed at moot court nationals in Brooklyn. I woke up one day in Utah and wound up in Russia without intending to. I became a karaoke star in Mexico. I posted 40 days of Paul Simon videos. I got stuck in Naples. I swam in a clear blue lake in Slovenia. I pulled an all-nighter at school for my last law school final. I inspired a breakfast assault prank. I stood on a train for an entire day. I started a clerkship. I decorated an apartment. I watched my blog go viral over something I didn't think would be that funny. I sort of felt like a celebrity for a few minutes. I became close friends with someone I met in a grocery store and a Canadian I still haven't met. I slept outside in the middle of nowhere near arches. I rode a bike with a basket and a bell across cobble-stone. I wrote a song. I made complicated meals for hundreds of people, and complained the whole time. I moved, twice. I saw a fight in front of a courthouse, but was more intrigued by the person who broke it up. I fell asleep standing up at a reggae concert. I avoided cats and dogs in a little house in Mexico. I read 12 more pages of Crime and Punishment (better than last year!). I jammed on the guitar with Austrians and Italians. I got eaten alive by mosquitos in an old house. I watched most of my best friends move away at once. I made some new best friends who don't replace the old ones and who, themselves, could never be replaced. I ate too much gelato. I bought a beautiful old icon from my favorite collector. I got tired, but was happy enough not to care.
What a great year full of excitement, disappointment, and strange. And as a result of all three of those things, I'm a different person than I was one year ago--a person that I am more proud to be. Lately many strangers have commented on the theme, or the lack thereof, of this blog, wondering why there is such a focus on the strange experiences of life, one even calling it a "waste of time" to read because it provides no value--no skills--no educational information--etc. I guess it depends all on how we value the information. Here, for example, we value humor. But in this little corner of the www we focus on the strange often for purposes beyond prompting a quick laugh. We focus on the strange because the unique moments that cause us to raise an eyebrow and wonder are the same moments that cause us to feel something, whether it be intrigue, sorrow, discomfort, or elation at the time, usually turning into a laugh later in retrospect. And the moments that cause us to feel something are the same moments that turn us into the people we are, for better or worse. So we identify those. We dissect them. We laugh at them. We cry about them. We hope for them to continue. And because we do all of those things, we increase the value of the strange happenings. And we hope that the reminder of them will motivate us to do what we need to do to seek the strange more fervently, even though the normal is more comfortable. Because who ever looked back fondly on a year of mundane? Who ever became something they were proud to be without experiencing something strange along the way? Not saying that Snuggies, fake mom blogs, and childhood journals are necessary for growth. But they sure make the growth more interesting. So there it is, friends. May the lessons of 2011 help 2012 Just Get Stranger for us all~