All too often in my life, I wade into unfamiliar water. I gingerly stick in a toe and inch my way in. It’s an agonizing way to get wet. And it isn’t just a problem in literal water. When it comes to change, I can be slow to jump in the deep end. But not this year. This year, I took the plunge.
Twenty fourteen was the year I jumped in with both feet. After moving from Arizona to Washington last year, I was timid. Moving was hard and I wasn’t able to get reliable, full-time work. 2013 ended in a rut and the early months of 2014 didn’t look promising. But things were looking up as the early days of summer brought sunlight to the dark northern latitudes.
This summer, I got engaged to an amazing woman; I snared an excellent job; I published a short story; I moved into an insulated; mouse-free home and I built new friendships. I decided to take the plunge — into marriage, into a stalled job search, into my creative work — and it paid off. I could’ve gotten here by slowly tip-toeing my way into the water, but that route might have taken years. It wasn’t all easy, but the struggle was worth it.
Life is about taking risks. It’s about jumping in even though the water might be cold. 2014 was the year I put aside my overly cautious inclinations. This was the year I jumped into the deep end. Let me tell you, the water’s fine.
— 30 —
Thank you for reading and following along with the ups and downs of this past year. What will you take away from your experiences this year? Let me know in the comments. Happy New Year!
This weekend, a carefully orchestrated plan came together and I emerged forever changed. It started with an innocent pancake breakfast and a walk on the beach at low tide. Then, I asked my girlfriend, Stephanie, to marry me.
I did it the old fashioned way, with a ring. People have given rings to symbolize their engagement since the time of the Roman Empire, exchanging bands bearing the image of two hands clasped together. In 1477, an archduke gave his beloved the first known diamond engagement ring, starting the modern love affair with shiny carbon stones.
Five hundred years later, I continued the tradition — saving my freelance writing money, kneeling down amid the pebbles and barnacles and holding out a shimmering diamond ring. A friend in a nearby kayak snapped photos. I asked a question. She said yes (and literally snatched the ring from my hand before hauling me to my feet).
As we walked around the bend, Stephanie’s family was cheering for us and popping the cork on a bottle of champagne. I breathed a sigh of relief, not because I was worried about her saying no, not because I was worried that some part of the plan would fail (What if she doesn’t want pancakes? What if she doesn’t want to walk on the beach? What if she recognizes the kayaker?), and not because I was worried about the future.
I sighed because I finally feel like I’m in the right place. It’s the same feeling I get while reading a great book when I know I’m close to the end of a chapter. I can feel this chapter drawing to a close and I’m ready to start the next one. For months now, I’ve felt like I’m at the end of this chapter, with all signs pointing toward the next page.
This weekend, I turned the page and dove into the next adventure in my — our — ongoing story.
— 30 —
Jonny Eberle is a newly engaged writer living in Tacoma, WA. When he isn’t basking in happiness, spending quality time with his fiancée or thinking about planning next summer’s festivities, you can generally find him among disreputable company on Twitter.
The scene is a reception hall at the local Elks Lodge. The last light of day shimmers on the snow outside. I’m standing in front of nearly a hundred people with a microphone in one hand and a typewritten speech in the other. A groomsman holds my glass of champagne. Slowly, I begin to speak:
Nathan is one of my oldest friends. In fact, I’ve known him so long, I can’t even remember how we met. I know it was about nine years ago when we were both in middle school and the rest is a blur. That’s how it is to be Nathan’s friend. You’re kinda just there for the ride. If you hang around him long enough, you learn that he embarks on a lot of projects. He likes to build things and tinker. And I usually end up getting dragged into them. Sometimes he wants me to learn Arkian, a language he invented. Sometimes he wants me to come sailing with him on a sailboat he converted from a canoe.
I remember a sailing trip we went on a couple years ago on Lake Powell. At the time I remember thinking that it was the worst trip I’d ever been on. For starters, there was no wind. The boat I was in had a slow leak, so we were constantly bailing. In fact, a park service boat came up and asked us if we were sinking and needed to be rescued. A thunderstorm that night collapsed our tent, sunk our boats and resurrected our fire, forcing us to put it out with sand and Gatorade. About a mile away, a park ranger was actually struck by lightning — this was no small storm. In the morning, we found that a houseboat had run aground about fifty feet from where we’d taken shelter.
Needless to say, Yannick (our other shipmate) and I were done, so we mutinied and demanded an immediate return home. We were furious. It seemed as though everything that could’ve gone wrong did. I broke my sandals, we lost not one, but both of our marine radios — it was a mess.
But through it all, Nathan was never discouraged. He saw the problems as opportunities; things to tinker with and improve upon. While I was thinking about how tired and sore and sunburned I was, Nathan was thinking about how he could seal the crack in the boat and reshape the daggerboard. For Nathan, a project is never finished. It can always be improved.
He lives his life the same way, constantly adapting, rethinking, reinventing. He’s committed. And now he’s embarking on his most ambitious project yet: his marriage to Danika. I know that he’ll bring the same determination and optimism to their future together.
As difficult as it was to get to this point, remember that the work is never over. Every day is an opportunity to build something beautiful and lasting. Together, I know that your love is watertight and that there will always be wind in your sails. Know that your friends are with you all the way and though the sailing may not always be smooth, it will always be worth it.