Dear 2014 – With a Carl Sagan look ahead

I have a long standing tradition of writing letters to the year that is about to pass us by.  In 2013 I wrote about how 2013 was a transitional year of sorts that set up a lot of work for me to do in 2014.   2012 was a year that forced a lot of action to take place in 2013, and much of the last several years all came to a head in 2014.  Now, usually I have reserved writing these letters to my years on my Tumblr, but seeing as how Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis are happily together and have a child, and this blog is more about process, and 2014 was such a year about process, I’ll write it here.

Dear 2014,

You sure have kept me on my toes.  In 2013 I knew that I had set up a lot that would all come to fruition in 2014, but I had no idea just how much I would be doing in the last 365 days.  To be perfectly blunt, I just did so much in 2014.  It wasn’t a theoretical year, it wasn’t an abstract year, it was a year where I had to get off my ass and DO things.  Somethings I was able to sit down for those things, but I was active.  I forced myself to be active.  I pushed myself to places and opportunities I never thought I would go.

Considering how my year started off – with an impromptu trip to Atlantic City – I’m pretty pleased with how everything turned out.

A quick recap of some of the things I did this year (in no particular order):

  • Attended 5 weddings
    • 2 of those weddings I officiated.  There are now 4 married people in this world that I had a strong hand in making happen.
    • One of those weddings brought me to a new state I’d never been to, and a city I fell in love with (New Orleans)
  • Involved with FIT (www.fieldinnovationteam.org) I was able to meet a great group of people, and even got to interview the governor of Utah
  • Finished graduate school, defended my Thesis, wrote my Thesis
    • With lots and lots of help from friends and colleagues, I built, implemented, and tested HeartGov in Brooklyn.  I presented it publicly, talked to people about it, got people using it, and look towards building it into my future, whatever that holds.
  • Didn’t move (this is a big accomplishment for me)
  • Started a storytelling show – So What Happened Was allowed me to grow as a storyteller and performer, but it also opened up a new community of wonderful people to me.  The show is going strong and will continue monthly through 2015.  
  • Became a CERT team member – wanting to get more involved with the community I joined CERT in Brooklyn 7, which I hope to continue to grow in.  
  • I hosted Thanksgiving dinner with my family.  My Mother got to put her feet up and play on her phone while her kids made the turkey, which we brined in my trashcan.
  • Appeared on numerous podcasts: I was lucky to be asked onto podcasts, including Can’t Make This Up (twice!), Abe Lincoln’s Top Hat, and the Brighter Side
  • Attended PDF (Personal Democracy Forum) where I was able to “meet” Edward Snowden, and meet a group of people who inspire me every day of my life.
  • I went to Vegas for a bachelor party.  There will be no links to pictures from this, but I’m just glad we all survived and can live to tell the tales.  Or not tell them.
  • 10 year anniversary show – with the help of the Tank and Nisse Greenberg (as well as Adam Wade and numerous other friends), I was able to write and perform a storytelling show celebrating my 10th year of living in New York.

I taught classes in storytelling, in media producing, I took classes, I attended meetings, I went on trips, I got a foosball table, and I experienced all of the ups and downs that come with living amidst the chaos which I’ve grown accustom to.  This year I’ve learned how to experience more.  I learned how to find myself within these events, not just look at them after the fact.  The snapshots we take, both mentally and on Instagram are important to take.  The moments we remember are what stay with me more than the events themselves.  It’s not easy to key into these, it’s not easy at all, especially when you live in an unstable environment.  But I’m learning to be more open to it and to experience it more.

2014 was, needless to say, a busy year.  But I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  If 2013 set up 2014, and 2014 was all action, what does that mean for 2015?  Is 2015 another transitional year where I have to set more up for 2016?  Will there be as much to do in 2015 now that I have started and finished so much in 2014?  I think more than anything 2015 is a mystery, and I want it to be.  For the first time in a long time I don’t know what’s coming next, and I need to be ok with that.  I see 2015 as a test for myself: can I walk into a world without sure feet?  Can I walk into a world that’s dark and murky?  Can I trust in myself and the people around me to keep me from falling?

In that vein, I want to leave 2014 with these thoughts, from Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot”:

We were wanderers from the beginning. We knew every stand of tree for a hundred miles. When the fruits or nuts were ripe, we were there. We followed the herds in their annual migrations. We rejoiced in fresh meat. through stealth, feint, ambush, and main-force assault, a few of us cooperating accomplished what many of us, each hunting alone, could not. We depended on one another. Making it on our own was as ludicrous to imagine as was settling down.

Working together, we protected our children from the lions and the hyenas. We taught them the skills they would need. And the tools. Then, as now, technology was the key to our survival.

When the drought was prolonged, or when an unsettling chill lingered in the summer air, our group moved on—sometimes to unknown lands. We sought a better place. And when we couldn’t get on with the others in our little nomadic band, we left to find a more friendly bunch somewhere else. We could always begin again.

For all its material advantages, the sedentary life has left us edgy, unfulfilled. Even after 400 generations in villages and cities, we haven’t forgotten. The open road still softly calls, like a nearly forgotten song of childhood. We invest far-off places with a certain romance.

It is beyond our powers to predict the future. Catastrophic events have a way of sneaking up on us, of catching us unaware. Your own life, or your band’s, or even your species’ might be owed to a restless few—drawn, by a craving they can hardly articulate or understand, to undiscovered lands and new worlds.

Goodbye 2014.

Best,

Asher

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