Happy New Year
- Posted on: 31 December 2007
- By: Jamie Tworkowski
i was reading the last few pages of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" as 2007 gave it's place to 2008. i only knew for the fireworks outside my window. i am quite possibly the world's slowest reader, and i tend to do dumb things such as leave books on airplanes... But i really enjoyed this book. i loved the honesty and the innocence of Charlie. These things matter and you feel them in this book, because they arrive in the face of pain and confusion. The book was so many things and i suppose it was an appropriate way to say goodbye to 2007.
2007 was the best year of my life.
i've never found so much. i've never grown so much.
And yet, it also feels true to say that 2007 was the hardest year of my life.
i've never lost so much, and i've never hurt so much.
Perhaps you can relate.
i don't want to give away the book's ending but i do want to share one thing that comes near it's close:
"I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them."
if i learned anything in 2007, i learned that much of life is about holding on and letting go, and trying to learn when to do which. Letting go is the hardest thing that i have ever experienced. Holding on is the thing that comes naturally, but if you're going to do it, you have to really do it. You have to make choices and you have to fight to defend the things you choose. You have to decide what is important.
In 2007, i learned that i was not very good at the stuff i just mentioned, and so in 2007, i ended up learning a lot about grace and community, and the parts they play in healing.
i went to counseling for the first time. For one hour every week. i wrestled with hard questions. Why do i do the things i do? Why do i hold on? Is it possible to change? Is it possible to let go? i talked about my life.
Sometimes, the hour would end and i would leave with eyes red from crying. Sometimes i felt exhausted. But as the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months, i saw progress. i saw healing. It became my favorite hour of the week. Not the easiest. But easily the most important.
i didn't sit down to make a big speech, or to talk a bunch about myself. i guess i just want to be honest about my own journey over the last year, and why i'm hopeful tonight. There were days earlier this year when it was hard to get out of bed. Days when it was hard to eat, hard to smile, hard to believe. Days when hope felt far away.
Things are not perfect now, but i am hopeful tonight. My heart is lighter than it was six months ago. i have seen storms pass. i have grown and learned and changed. And i am stronger now.
i share all of that just because i want to say that i believe those things for all of us. Which means i believe those things for you. i believe that things can get better. i believe that it's possible to let go of the thing you never thought you could. i believe that we don't have to live with ghosts. i believe that community is essential, that we need people who know us, people we can share our lives with. i believe that grace is real, that forgiveness is real, that hope is real.
i watched a video today of my friend Jeremy (from Between the Trees) proposing to his girlfriend Christina, on stage in front of 2000 people at the House of Blues in Orlando a few nights ago. And tonight, my friend Dylon York, one of the greatest people on the planet, asked his girl Ruthie to marry him. (She said yes.)
i believe that love is real. i believe that it is possible. i believe that it can last.
There is hope in all of this.
As for TWLOHA and 2007, it was an incredible year. We saw this conversation about hope and help continue to grow and move. We continued to see the best of the internet what is possible online. We heard from people in fifty states and forty countries. People asking for help. People wanting to help. We were given the opportunity to speak to thousands and thousands of people all over the United States. On tour with bands, on college campuses, at festivals and conferences, in churches. Your support raised over $100,000, which went directly to treatment and recovery. When our friend Casey passed away, we were humbled and honored by the invitation to respond, to help meet needs and and to be a voice of hope in a difficult moment. Your support paid for 100% of our friend Casey's funeral expenses, and your support continues to help Casey's family.
At "Heavy and Light" two nights ago, we saw what's possible in a live setting. At our favorite venue, we watched music collide with hope and help and honesty. People called it the highlight of their year. Aaron Gillespie said during his set, "This is the coolest thing i've ever been to." The owner of the venue said "i loved the way this room felt tonight." People signed up to get help.
A bunch of us, and a bunch of you, said "We have to take this on the road."
So here we are, 2008. How about we keep going? Together. How about we keep dreaming? How about we keep talking about the things that people tend to ignore? How about we keep caring and learning and moving for things that matter? Let's learn what it means to love people who are hurting. Let's learn what it means to love ourselves. To get help. To give help.
Let's let go of the past and embrace the possibility that things can get better. Our stories are important. Our lives matter. Our voices matter.
We're all in this together.
From all of us at TWLOHA, Happy New Year. You are loved.
PS: Some highlights from Heavy and Light. We filmed it with two cameras, took pictures with two more, and we recorded the audio, so we're excited to share that with you soon.