Reflecting on 2015, life, death and contentment

by Jason

On Jan. 1, 2015, I woke up on a couch in Portland.

We’d counted down the seconds to the new year at the townhouse of a friend’s friend. I was feeling old and tired and slept early, texting a few friends around the world before closing my eyes around 1 a.m.

The first month of 2015 would play out in high speed, sending me to Napa County, Southern California, Michigan and Chicago before hurdling me back off to my base around the world in Beirut, where I started a new job before January took its final bow. Things just kept going in overdrive from then.

How does one measure a year?

I could measure it in plane tickets or international destinations perhaps. In January I was in the United States before returning to Lebanon. In March I was off to Dubai for a work conference. April saw me heading to Oman for a few incredible days on a much needed break. I managed to spend a few days with old friends driving around Jordan in May. Work sent me to Qatar twice in the autumn. A weekend getaway to visit a friend in Iraq happened in October. And then of course, it was back to the U.S. for Christmas with family.

Touring Kerak Castle in Jordan.

Touring Kerak Castle in Jordan.

And still, this amount of traveling doesn’t even compete with the year prior, a year that saw me boarding planes for international destinations monthly. So why did 2015 pass so rapidly?

This past year was one of solitude, one of finding emotional peace and relishing in self reflection. It was a year of friendships and professional growth. It was one of heartache bookended by moments of pure bliss. I found myself telling myself, and my friends, over and over, “Nobody has better lives than we do!”

It became my unofficial mantra, my impromptu slogan and also the scripture that brought me back from moments of depression. Regardless of any stress or emotional drama, I reminded myself how incredible my life has been. There are certainly others with lives equally as amazing but not likely more amazing, at least, I couldn’t imagine it being possible.

And yet, when reflecting on this a few days ago with a close friend, I realized this bizarre ecstasy of life exists as a perpetual contrast inside of me, a constant yin and yang.

As I breath in the beauty of each passing moment, relishing in the divine beauty of existence, I have this incessant desire to also die, to die in that moment, to die so that I will die completely content. It’s as if I have found life at its fullest and finally understood the literary cliche: “I’m so happy I could die.”

I’m increasingly aware of how incredibly privileged and charmed my relatively short life has been. Since the first moment I stepped onto a plane less than 10 years ago until the present, where I sit typing this in transit through the Istanbul airport, I have seen, learned and experienced more than the average human does in her or his entire life. I’m not saying this in arrogance. On the contrary, I say it to step back, humbled at the incredible opportunities I have had.

The past few years alone have increased my life experiences exponentially. While many of my peers have been getting married, snatching career focused jobs, and settling down, I have thrown myself violently at the world. I’ve said a “fuck you” to money and to the societal pressures that would box me in to create a “normal” life.

Its not that I think financial security, marriage, or careers are negative things. I often find myself coveting the lives of various friends who have chosen a different path. I step back and wonder, “Did I do something wrong? Did I make a wrong turn? Is my life one big mistake?”

With friends in Tannourine, Lebanon

With friends in Tannourine, Lebanon

And so I’m with family at Christmas and I feel so utterly out of place and yet so completely sure I never want to leave. I say goodbye and it feels like my heart is being wrenched from within me. It feels like nothing will ever make sense or be normal.

Yet, everything makes sense now. Everything is perfect. I’m in an airport. I’m in transit. I’m alone. I’m surrounded. I’m complete. I’m empty. I’m everything. I’m nothing. My life is in transit, always.

“Nobody has a better life than I do.”

And still, the grass is always greener. And still, I want to live and die together in every second.