Looking ahead is always good, new plans and dreams require planning and optimism and you can’t go wrong with these traits and activities. However, sometimes there is much to be gained by looking back as well. There are lessons learned, failures to digest, victories to build upon, accomplishments to relish and seemingly insurmountable obstacles overcome.
So on this last day of 2015 I noticed that I had written a Happy New Year 2015 blog post and so I read it to find out what I might have been thinking last New Year’s Eve. I’m sure it was a rough one, although you would not know if from my brief post. Tricia was dying, there was no doubt in my mind that without the miracle of all time I was celebrating my last New Year’s Eve with her. From my blog post I remembered that my main camera had served me well for six years, but had finally snapped it’s last image. I wrote of the anticipation of a new camera in 2015 but I remember thinking how unlikely that would actually be.
My blog for 2015 looked pretty bleak, including only the one goal of going out to the Lost Creek Wilderness for pictures. And of course on the first of March in the middle of the night in a blizzard we took our final ambulance ride together to Memorial Hospital. There was nothing more the doctors could do and two days later she passed away at the Pikes Peak Hospice at Penrose Hospital. There was no time to mourn, there was too much to do and not enough time to do it. Much to my surprise though, with some help from church members I was pretty much moved out of our cottage before her memorial service near the end of March.
As a result of a true miracle from God, it wasn’t long before I had the new camera and was making plans for an eventful summer. I made it to two whitewater festivals on the Arkansas, Bison Peak in the Lost Creek Wilderness that I previously mentioned, photographed the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run, visited the wolves in Guffey with Facebook friends and wolf warriors Lisa and Jeanne, explored new trails on Pikes Peak and got a press pass to report on the Pikes Peak Ascent where I finally met my Facebook friend Jill in real life. Photographing the mountain goats and bighorn sheep on Mount Evans and climbing the two 14ers later in September were so far beyond my wildest expectations that I still have to pinch myself to believe it. With the help of Tracy Roach, we also finished an Examiner article about her climbing adventures that we had started months ago!
But I think that by far the most important lessons from 2015 involve lessons learned about grieving and also of building personal relationships. It was my plan to just become a mountain hermit, do my photography and writing, and live here on my mountain in solitude. But it was not meant to be so. I should have known when old friends Doug from Control Data Corporation and Frank and Michelle came out for Tricia’s memorial. My brother Jim and his girlfriend Robin came to visit later and much to my surprise, Jim and I climbed the Manitou Incline, something I had been wanting to do for years. In surprising and unexpected fulfillment of a deathbed promise to Tricia, I met met my Facebook friend Apryl in real life as well. Through her I made some more new friends and even re-connected with my old friend David from our old neighborhood in Parker at the Manitou Coffin Races on our racing team that she organized.
However summer’s end and the associated short days and long hours of darkness came with terrible sadness when Apryl had to move back to Northern Colorado for an awesome new job opportunity and I once again began to entertain the idea of life as a mountain hermit. I think this is when I learned the most important concept of the entire year. I received a message from one Facebook friend one evening asking me if I had heard recently from another Facebook friend. I was kind of feeling sorry for myself and a bit lonely too at the time and really didn’t feel like talking to anyone, but I started thinking that I had not heard from her in quite a while. So I checked and indeed, she had not posted anything or messaged me in a long time.
I started trying to track her down and find out what was going on and that is when I was hit by a startling revelation. The isolation I was contemplating is selfish and self destructive. I realized that while I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself others were fighting terrible battles in their lives as well and as a mature long time believer, God was expecting me to get involved, to continue where He left off when Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised”.
The major lesson learned here is that so often, the thing we need the most is the very thing we are supposed to be giving away. As I began to take action on this knowledge I also discovered that many times a gesture that seems small to me can make a huge difference in the life of someone else. I think not because I have any unusual ability or strength, but because a task that is small for me might be an impossible burden for someone else, just as my own battles sometimes appear insurmountable to me and minuscule to someone else. Each and every one of us has talents and tools that someone else is needing and it is selfishness to conceal them in solitude, even if all we might have to offer is an encouraging word or a hug at an opportune time.