The first night of the new year

The first day of a new year has almost come and gone.

A steady rain is falling, as it has nearly all day.

I can hear it thumping against the roof of my house in a rhythm which is bound to put me to sleep.

While I’m still awake, since I’ve properly greeted the new year, I’ve decided to spend the next 54 minutes or so on what happened in the old one.

What a year it was.

There were more than the two changes I’ll address tonight, but this rain may rock me to sleep before this post is finished if I don’t hurry.

I became an uncle to twin girls, and so far no other experience in my 31 years aside from Jesus has brought me close to as much joy as they have.

They also have more than a little to do with the next change.

I feel like I learned just how important it is to pay attention to the value of time in the last year, and I feel like I paid more attention than ever before.

Some time ago, I ran into an age-old problem.

My age began to show.

About six grey hairs have shown themselves near my right temple, without my permission, and they sure seem to stand out.

A few had the audacity to grow into my goatee and add insult to injury.

Long before I noticed my signs of aging, however, I noticed what I believe to be a much bigger problem.

I got the feeling life was passing me by.

I usually find a way to deal with most problems pretty well, but it hit me pretty hard.

I blamed it on work, and in my defense my line of work in journalism allows for a lot less time to stop and smell the roses than a “normal” 9 to 5 probably affords.

I soon realized my lack of time was my fault because I didn’t take advantage of the time I had so I used my vacation time and tried to make the most of it.

I went to the Grand Canyon a few years ago, which should be moved to the top of your bucket list immediately if you haven’t seen it.

I’ve now been to Michigan and Canada — where I got my first passport stamp as well as my first box of assorted doughnut holes from Tim Horton’s — and saw Niagara Falls.

I went to The Henry Ford museum, which houses pieces of history like the chair Abraham Lincoln sat in when John Wilkes Booth shot him, the bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and a whole lot more.

I saw the factory where F-150s are made.

Last year I saw two of the Great Lakes, which were great indeed.

I watched a baseball game played with 1867 rules.

I saw Lincoln’s birthplace and the site of his boyhood home.

I was lucky enough to watch a nest full of sea turtles hatch on the beach, see them erupt from the ground and attempt to find their way to the water.

I encourage you to add that to your bucket list as well, because it’s really a sight to see.

I went to the National Corvette Museum and peered into the huge sinkhole which swallowed some of the classic cars.

I bought something from the world’s largest Christmas store before Thanksgiving.

I toured a cave which served as a camp for soldiers during the Civil War well before it was a nightclub for two decades and hosted Ella Fitzgerald.

I finally saw Hank Williams’ grave.

I walked around an abandoned movie set on Jackson Lake Island, the causeway to which you see in the image on this post, and was roadblocked by some goats.

Through all of this, I believe I caught the travel bug even more.

I learned how good it is to get way just for a day or so and see something you haven’t seen.

I plan to get out and go more this year, to see a little more of the world.

I’ve already started a list of small day trips to take, and I’m looking forward to each of them.

Life will pass me by eventually, but I’ll be sure to take the time to smell plenty of roses first.

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