Monday, January 4, 2010

A Farewell to the Oughts

"It is not length of life, but depth of life." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Almost seven years ago today, minus one week, the Jets blew out the Packers in their last game of the season to clinch a spot in the playoffs. I didn't know it at the time, but that would be the last football game I would ever watch with my dad. A week later, I would witness the Jets shut out the Colts in the first round of the playoffs. The best football experience I've ever had. Later that evening, my father passed away.

That's the decade in a nutshell, folks. Incredible highs, devastating lows.

Almost seven years to the day, the Jets blew out the Bengals in their last game of the season to clinch a spot in the playoffs. And I kept thinking about my dad, and the things I've experienced without him. How I spent most of the decade without him. How my daughter has spent her entire life without him.

I used to get all melancholy on New Year's Eve. I used to lament the people, things, opportunities I missed. The ball would drop, and so would my spirits. What could have been. What should been. What wasn't.

Thankfully, I've developed a different approach. A better approach. A more positive approach. I no longer believe in could have been’s, would have been’s, or ought to have been’s. Not big on regrets anymore. While I may be a skeptic by nature, I often try to find the silver lining. So with that in mind, I will look back at the ‘Aughts fondly. And leave the "ought’s" behind with them.

A lot of good can happen in 10 years. A lot of good did happen in the past 10 years. I got engaged, won an Emmy, got married, became a homeowner, went to Italy, became a dog owner, turned 30, became a father, ran a half-marathon, and bought a house. In that order. And those are just the minimum highlights, off the top of my head. Pretty good.

The decade was not without its hardships. The loss of my father, some struggles at work, financial uncertainty. But you endure. You escape. You emerge.

The sun shines on the bright side... and it's a lot warmer there. So I choose to be thankful for the memories I do have with my dad. Had he died a month earlier, he would not have been at my wedding.

I would not be where I am today without the professional struggles I encountered. They were necessary. And the financial issues always seem to find a way to work themselves out. Every step we took, every move we made - the bigger apartment, the condo, the job changes (4 of them in the decade!), the pregnancy, the house. All risks, with great rewards. And it's all worked out.

You endure. You escape. You emerge.

Had it not been for those tough experiences, I would not be in the position I am today. They made me better at what I do, at how I handle certain situations, and appreciate the people who appreciate me.

But the positives far outweigh the negatives. I ought to remember this decade fondly, for the joys that it brought me. I did a lot of growing up, some of it before I may have wanted to, but still have a lot more to go.

It'll be hard to top the elation that filled me during the applause my wife and I received from the congregation at the moment we turned and faced them as husband and wife for the first time. It'll be hard to top the emotion that filled me at the moment the doctor handed me Penelope for the first time just moments after birth, and I held her in my arms and got her to stop crying. It'll be hard to top the nervous enthusiasm that pulsated through me as I handed that first check over to the realtor when we bought our first condo.

The one constant through all of this is my wife, who started this decade as my girlfriend, with a brief stop at fiancé. She has stood by me, carried me through the losses, the issues, the troubles. Lifted me every time I was down. She made me a father to a wonderful daughter. My wife and my daughter make me a better person. The person I one day wish to become.

For that, for them, I ought to be happy. And I am. Very. How could I possibly not be?

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