2016 is knocking at the door and New Year’s Eve is nigh. An arbitrarily chosen day to reflect upon the past 364 ones and to mark new beginnings, new aspirations, new hopes… Us humans need those milestones – they allow us to preserve a sense of continuity on the one hand, and on the other to summon mental strength to let go of what is gone and to welcome what is to come. Maybe even to work for it a bit :).
This year I want to take this chance to share something with my friends that is essential to life and that may, sadly, in the daily hustle, get forgotten or postponed indefinitely… That something is gratitude and appreciation – for what there is, for what one is given, for the people who make one’s life wonderful…
2015 was not my best year. Neither was 2014, actually, but while nothing tragic happened, it was just one of those years that made me, in many ways, want to go “meh, was that seriously necessary?”
Long story cut short, my dear Russian government decided last December to color things up and float the Ruble – a wonderful idea that slashed my otherwise comfortable income by half… Yay. Consequently, stuff that went wrong in 2014, instead of getting fixed, got dragged out and up until a certain moment the prospects looked bleak to say the least. They still aren’t looking that great for the Ruble. And yet…
And yet my ‘not a great year’ is still a year majority of humans on this planet would envy. I still live in one of the most beautiful cities on Earth. I have my health. I have my family. I have friends I never knew I deserved to have. In 2016 I managed to: watch the full solar eclipse; make it to Madrid for a wonderful weekend of spreading Zouk to the city and share the honor of giving workshops alongside such incredible teachers as Luciano, Sofie, Xavi and Laura; dance for the whole week at the Prague Zouk Congress; dance for 3 days and nights in a row at the Prague Zouk Marathon; attend a proper ball for a few hours that same weekend; pull a crazy stunt that unexpectedly paid off in the summer and actually go to Mexico for the 1st ZNL Zouk Festival and to Seattle for the festival there the very next weekend (spend my entire remaining food budget for the year on that trip, but fuck it – worth every penny!); party my ass off all the way; meet amazing new people there; eat way too much food with one of them who visited Prague; watch the full super-moon eclipse (happens roughly every few decades or so); have my planned un-birthday be turned on its head by several kind angels and, consequently, party my ass off yet again; visit my parents; have another gluttony-filled week with a visiting friend in November; win a bronze medal with Caribiana team at the regional dance competition (we were, like, supposed to not get anything because our part of the group with a separate act just went along to support the main group (they got gold), but hey – not complaining! 🙂 ); get a few new money-making prospects (PLLLLLEEEEASE WORK OUT, DAMNIT!); get back home at 10am on Monday after the Prague Zouk Christmas weekend and make it through 2015 with a few events I had sworn I’d go to but simply had to miss, but with SO MUCH to be thankful for I won’t even know where exactly to begin!
None of this would have ever been possible without human beings who, in one way or another, had a hand in making all this magic happen to me.
You see, my most precious possessions in life are experiences and the resulting memories – memories created with special people, memories of new places, memories that are the type that let me look back, smile and think that, well, maybe this life is worth something after all. Unless I lose my wits at an advanced age (and, well, if I’m lucky enough to make it 🙂 ), no material possessions beyond the necessary will ever give me any fulfillment, comfort, happiness, peace, a sense of a life well-lived… The only possessions I can carry through till the very end that can make me truly rich are those memories. They can be very little, but they are my only true treasures. They are the reason I will never have the latest phone or the fancy clothes – everything I make goes to two categories: living expenses (rent, food, bills) and memories piggy-bank. I take my fun deadly seriously :).
Almost all of those experiences and memories (maybe besides the natural wonders themselves) are the work of other humans – humans who have built the cities I love, grew my food for me, made everything I do every day and the comforts I enjoy possible, humans who made me exist and grow up and not die of some diseases, and humans who share some of their precious time on this planet with me out of all people… You – the people in my life – you literally mean the world to me. There would be nothing save for nature (but I doubt that would be enough) out there that I find worth sticking around for – if it were not for every single one of you. No matter how brief our interaction, no matter how small your role – you create my universe and you fill it with joy and meaning and I have no idea what I’ve done to be so blessed as to have every one of you be a part of my journey through this weird, essentially pointless but, nevertheless, utterly fascinating thing called life. You make me cry – those tears of overwhelming gratitude that occasionally sneak up on me at the randomest moments when I remember all of a sudden just how freakishly wonderful you’re all making my life be.
A few years back I intended to be better at keeping in touch with people. I failed miserably, of course, but here is something I want you to know: if you are someone who touched my life in any positive, meaningful way, you are a resident in my heart forever. There is no expiration date on my appreciation. Maybe we only meet once and just share a great conversation, or a dance. Maybe we’re thrown oceans and continents apart by this spinning globe and fail to consistently communicate. Maybe everyone is busy in this busy world. Please know that it doesn’t matter the smallest possible bit. Know that there is definitely at least one person who owns their life to you. You matter in creating the fabric of my universe, even if you’re the tiniest of threads – it would never be complete without YOU. It would never have the same dimension, shine, softness, texture, beauty. Know that once you are a friend, you are a friend in my books for life. If we never speak to each other and you show up out of the blue at my doorstep 20 years later at 4am – my door and heart will be open for you just the same. There is very little you can do to cancel out the lifetime warranty on my appreciation.
So I won’t promise to stay in touch better in 2016. Definitely write me if you ever feel like it because I’d love to hear from you – I’m just one of those weirdoes terrible at remembering to individually contact people who matter, so my bad. I mean, I have to check the calendar to make sure I don’t let two weeks swoosh by without remembering to call my parents before it’s 3am in Moscow :). So whenever I vanish – don’t take it personally by any means :).
But I can promise you one thing: despite being a major sarcastic know-it-all and debate goddamn everything pain in the ass at times (did I cover all the main bases? :D), despite anything and everything that might get lost in the mundane trickle of the days, ultimately the only thing that I ever hope to try and do is to maybe have a tiny little role to play in creating some decent memories for those who matter to me alongside being fully and selfishly absorbed in the chase after growing my own stash. I’ve no idea how to go about it – different things mean something different to every one of you, and I’m only one fallible human with one barely functioning lump of grey matter and zero mind reading abilities, but my ultimate quest is, along this ride, to make lives and memories of others a little better, spicier, crazier, warmer… Whatever floats YOUR boats :).
I promise I’ll do what I humanly can when I can. Maybe I’ll listen when you need someone to vent to. Maybe I’ll sprinkle you with randomized search results of my personal database of trivia and ‘well, research seems to suggest that…’ instead (just know that in those cases I’m not trying to show how ‘smart’ I am. There’s nothing smart in memorizing random things I spend way too much time reading (that I could spend more productively). I would have had a Nobel Prize or something if I was anywhere near smart enough. Definitely don’t have anything like that :). So if I do, I’m just sharing some interesting bits of information that I gathered that might be, well, interesting or handy maybe? Maybe help push your own train of thoughts into new directions and thus help you arrive at your own answers by either realizing some of that connects the dots, or that on the contrary that’s absolute nonsense that has nothing to do with you, but hey – finding a solution by pushing off of a contrarian point is still finding a solution! 🙂 ). Whatever the deal – all I’m aiming at is making it if not better, then at least worthwhile and memorable in some ways. The way each of you does it for me without even knowing.
I probably fail 99,99% of the times, but if that 0,01% ever works – then I haven’t wasted my existence entirely. And that’ll be good enough to strive for in 2016. In fact, it’s good enough to keep living for.
Thank you. Have an amazing, magical year. Let’s create more kick-ass memories, people!
And just because I suck at individually writing people, you’re gonna get’ the full wrath of it right the very here, because I’m going through my FB friends list during the first few days of 2016 and personally thanking every one of you that I can, tagging ya’ll in the comments below the FB post! There! I’ll probably go by categories of people and will run each section in alphabetical order, but one way or another – I’ll tell you exactly what you have done! Mwaaahahahaha 😀
Bring it ON, 2016! You better be daaaaaymmmn GOOD!