At the end of each year, I take a look back to see how I’ve grown. It may be kind of cheesy, but it can be rewarding. Sometimes it can really suck to look at yourself so closely if you’re not happy with what you see, but regardless of what I find, I do my best to learn from it; that makes the self-critique worth it, at least for me. Most times I honestly don’t see much of a change. I doubt anyone can, really. We don’t really change all THAT much from year to year, do we? Not by leaps and bounds, anyway.

If we look at ourselves like a tree for a moment (bear with me), we’re still the same tree from year to year. We have nice green flora, earthy smelling bark, and many branches reaching out in hundreds, if not thousands of directions, but when you get right down to it, we’re just a tree.

From a distance, we all look pretty much the same, one tree of many in the forest.

But move in and look at everything more closely, and you begin to see the individuality. I don’t like being just another tree standing in the middle of the forest. I want to be unique. I want to be an individual, a tree that stands out, a tree that makes someone stop and think to themselves, “I’ve never seen a tree quite like this before.”

Large, lumbering branches swaying in the breeze, as if conducting some kind of nature concerto; calling on the wind, the other trees, the water lapping up on the shore of the lake or flowing over the rocks in the riverbed, and the branches above clackity-clacking together to the rhythm of an unknown, but calming tune. The rustle of the leaves provides the applause.

Not only are we trees, but we are instruments of nature, playing our own specific tune. We need to understand ourselves to interpret how our instrument works, how it is to be played.

Everyone can play the piano if they practice enough, but it is only the person who truly loves the instrument and the sounds it can make who can do so with such ease and beauty, adding subtle personal touches that make the sounds uniquely theirs. It is that person who can not only play beautiful music, but create music that inspires others to do so, as well.

Negativity makes your song go flat; positive thoughts keep it in tune. Be at peace with yourself, play a beautiful tune, and watch people dance when you’re around.

It is my goal this year to learn how to play some new chords on my own instrument, to come closer to playing the song I know is buried somewhere inside of me—that random song that sometimes finds its way to my lips in the form of a whistle when I’m happy. You never quite know where this random tune came from, but it is yours—a unique song we are all born with that slowly reveals itself the more you allow yourself to understand YOU, and become more observant and tolerant of all people, and of your surroundings.

Forgive yourself for your mistakes, and others for theirs.
Embrace people for their differences, and proudly celebrate yours.
Be good to people.

These are some of the silent lyrics I’ve found to my song over the years.

What are some of yours?

Here is to a safe and happy 2008, my friends.