Those dates are important for a reason. December 2nd of last year, I agreed to accompany a girl I had volunteered with in the past to a dance at her school. I was egged on by a mutual friend of ours, and I happened to like the girl, so “why not?” I thought. Fast forward a year and a few days later, and I am taking that same girl, who is now my girlfriend, to the same dance. Taking her to the dance a year ago, I would have never imagined that I would have found an awesome partner and a woman I could love so much (and who is such an awesome cook, but I could ramble about that for ages). In fact, I could not have imagined this time last year what was going to happen to me in 2013 at all. This was the best year of my life, so far. While the retrospectives are usually saved for the end of the year, I have final papers procrastinate on, so here goes:
- Research I had done on twentieth century anime in high school was published in an undergraduate journal here at my university.
- I became an itty bitty footnote in the annals of academia when my boss credited me in her article.
- I became an editor for the research journal that published my work last year, and it has been a great opportunity and immense fun.
- I traveled to Rio de Janiero, Granada, Cordoba, and Istanbul, and went to New York City twice. I also finally spent some time in the heart of Pennsylvania, which was more beautiful than I would have expected.
- I interviewed a few Zen Masters when I was conducting research in New York City in March. Not only was I able to take part in my first Dharma Interview, but I was able to practice with large groups of people for the first time.
- Saw Pope Francis up close.
- I sat in Dr. Cornel West’s class. I STILL GUSH ABOUT IT TO THIS DAY.
- Not only did I have a girlfriend for the first time in 2013, but I told her I love her. I never imagined that I would find a person that I love this early in my life the way I love her. The experiences we share and the relationship we have has helped me grow as a person every day, and is always exciting.
- I finally reached a point where I have practiced meditation with my Buddhist school enough that I have gained the privilege of taking the first five precepts and wearing the monk’s robe.*
- In another week, I will be done with my junior year of college. It doesn’t feel like it has been two years. I still have plenty of classes to take, but I am more than halfway through my college career, and the real world is closer than ever.
I omitted one event for the sake of privacy, but the experience I omitted proved to me that I could be emotionally mature for myself and my girlfriend, which is important. Other than that, this year has been incredibly eventful and full of wonderful memories and experiences.
*The school I practice with has monastics, but not many. Therefore, the practitioners are mainly lay people. So the founder of the school, Seung Sahn, saw no problem with giving lay practitioners the monk’s robe as an incentive for practicing and strengthening the ties each person had with the Sangha.