It was really rather wonderful. I walked into the bar across the street. Same day, same time each week. It was all pretty routine. I got comfortable in my seat, and the barman walked over with my Guinness ready for me. Same day, same drink each week. And then I felt it – that same feeling I’ve felt countless times in the last year. That same feeling that accompanies only the quietest of moments: I felt the tremor of each piece align. I felt, in my skin and in my marrow, everything come together. Every moment. Every decision. Every step that brought me into this establishment.
The staff often tease me that my seat at the bar is “marked” and dedicated to me and my recurring visits. The Guinness set. I took my sip. And then I saw it: a tiny, barely there “K” in the wooden carvings of the table on which my drink had rest so many nights before. I laughed to myself. So this is my seat. I am meant to be here.
It’s the smallest of anecdotes, but that night I raised my Irish stout to a recurring theme and the promise of my own stout truism. I am meant to be here, and I’ve been meant to be in every place and every situation that brought me here.
I called this post a “Year in Review” because the events of the last 12 months have not been passive episodes that concluded in self-actualization. I remember it so clearly: Thursday afternoon on New Years Eve, on the Amtrak to Boston. Single ticket, single seat. I had my own company with whom to welcome the new year, and the Winter Classic to look forward to in the morning. Following the horrific events of 2015, I made an active decision, right there on that train, to relentlessly chase my own happiness, and search for it exclusively within myself. In retrospect, it was a hell of a New Year’s resolution, and one that changed my life in keeping.
That said, it's going to be a good year and I feel that in my bones. May tonight and the rest of the year treat you all deliciously.— Kathy Polo (@katyapolo) December 31, 2015
That night, I felt it for the first time – that feeling of “I’m meant to be here.” Through some flection of fate and fortune, I somehow found myself celebrating the first moments of 2016 with NHL alumni. I somehow found my name featured in Fast Company, Yahoo! Sports and Sportsnet, and somehow began receiving emails and offers from professional sports teams, sports networks and foundations. I somehow found myself sitting at an airport bar across from Wayne Gretzky. I somehow found myself sitting on the ruins of Bob Marley’s home. I somehow found myself on the edge of the earth on the Appalachian Trail. (I somehow didn’t faint.)
I somehow got the courage to dramatically reconstruct my life and move to the country I’ve always wanted to live in – in a home that just so happened to neighbour two sports arenas, in a home that just so happened to include the very specific elements I’ve thrown into my “dream home” conversations years prior.
And within my first week living there, I somehow stumbled into a stranger on the street who randomly asked if I had heard about an obscure children’s book by some obscure author, unknowing that that author was me.
I somehow continued to find myself at the right place, at the right time. I somehow found myself in situations that were designed for me. I somehow found my seat.
But I’d be lying if I told you that the “somehow” eluded me. Of the many possibilities held by the “some,” there had only ever been one reason for the “how.” And it was because, exactly 12 months ago, I started a new relationship with myself. I started digging for what would feed my purpose, for what would satisfy my soul. It didn’t matter how it looked and it didn’t matter how it felt – what mattered was the big picture and the fundamental focus: my own personal happiness and contribution to the world. And now, 12 months later, I’m sitting comfortably in a place where I can turn to my friends and family and the 22 year old girl in my memory, and see their love and pride reflecting back to me.
This last year has been a fairytale. Of course, I still face the very real, very "adult" challenges that exist in the modern world. I still had my heart broken and bruised. I’ve still fallen into emotional pitfalls, and I continue to cope with the residual horrors of 2015 and beyond. But with a deeper understanding of my purpose, and with a savage determination to live exclusively to achieve that purpose, and to build upon my own happiness at all costs, I can accept each loss as a token in my journey. I can accept each heartbreak as a stepping stone for the next relationship. I can take on each challenge having a foundation to support each resolution. The same way I am meant to be in each place that floods me with unfathomable joy, I am meant to be in each place that strikes me with agony. The difference between now and the years before, is that I’ve spent 12 months constructing my own shield to ease the blow.
On one hand, I am writing this to purge. This, here, is my attempt in exhibiting some level of catharsis to digest abstractions I so often deem indigestible. But, whether the outcome presents itself as organized reflection or unstructured rhetoric, my primary objective is to share and encourage those I love onto the same path. – Not my path. But one where your own personal happiness dictates your own personal journey.
It sounds so simple, but its simplicity eludes us. Because so often we find ourselves answering to, and making decisions for, our friends, our families, our inner 12-year olds who once had misguided aspirations that cripple us in present day. We don’t realize the obstacles that we, alone, create for ourselves. We don’t realize it until something prompts us to stop, look around, and inwardly think of why we’re moving forward the way we are.
I had a life-changing, truly magical year. And it’s only because I pointed my “why” and my "how" toward happiness and purpose, and realized the challenges ahead of me were simply the constructs of a previously skewed perception.
Perception is loud, supremely flexible and always a reflection of our souls' choosing.
So now I am here: Christmas lights reflecting off the glass that imbibes the Vancouver skyline. Sitting and studying and planning and working to further and better this life I created for myself. My mind is the vehicle, my passion is the fuel and my purpose the prism through which my achievements refract. I am unbelievably, gut-wrenchingly, feverishly happy here. And now that this year is coming to a close, I am making a vow to myself to hold onto that 12-month-old resolution for dear life, and to continue following its guiding principle. Because no matter where it takes me, I know I am meant to be there. So long as I stay true to what brought me here, I will always find my place. Somehow, I will always make it to where I'm meant to be. Somehow, I will always find my seat.