Thomas taught me many things during our days together, and this time of year reminds me of one particular interaction we had.
"Now that you are becoming more aware," Thomas said, "you need to begin to set goals for yourself so you don't lose the momentum you have built."
"Like New Year's resolutions?" I asked.
"That's an interesting idea," he smirked. "Let's do that."
By then I was used to his cryptic responses, so I knew something was up because of the way his eyes sparkled as he let out an impish laugh.
"Tonight, make two lists," Thomas continued. "The first is a list of all the New Year's resolutions you WANT to keep, and the second is a list of all the New Year's resolutions you WILL keep.
I went home and spent several days working on the two lists. The WANT List felt overwhelming at first, but after a while I got into writing all the things I had always wanted to do if the burdens of life hadn't come in the way. After nearly an hour, the list swelled to fill the entire page and contained nearly all of my ideas of an ideal life.
The next time I saw Thomas, he said "Tell me about your two lists" as the familiar smirk crept onto his face.
I replied "The first list contains all the things I SHOULD do if I completely changed my life to be the person I always wanted to be. The second list contains all the things I COULD do by accepting my current life, and taking realistic steps towards the life I want to lead."
"Let me see the second list" he said.
I handed him the second list, and without even looking at it, he ripped the paper into tiny pieces and threw it in the nearby trash. His disregard for the effort I had put into the list annoyed me at first, but I quickly calmed down I began to think about the first list in a different light.
"Now let me see the first list" he ordered.
I handed him the first list and held his gaze for several seconds, waiting for him to begin reading the page. After an unusually long silence, he began to crumple the paper into a ball and once again tossed it into the trash without looking at it.
"What did you do that for?!" I couldn't hide my annoyance or frustration any longer.
Thomas began to speak in a quiet and assured voice. "What you SHOULD or COULD do with your life no longer matters. The only thing that matters, from this day forward, is what you MUST do."
He then drew a folded piece of paper from his back pocket and handed it to me.
I opened it carefully, and found a single word floating in the middle of the white page:
I still have that piece of paper.
As for me, I'll be looking back at this past year with fondness and gratitude for having you in my life.
With love & light,