In 2016, I goofed off too much, ate too much, drank too much, worked too much, traveled too much, loved too much, and learned too much – a year well spent!
In between there were broken ribs at one of the toughest karate camps in the world,
Splashing in the ocean at some of the nicest islands on earth,
Zip-lining (upside down) between city skyscrapers,
Climbing (small) mountains,
Swimming with whale sharks,
Eating insects, snakes, roaches, and spiders,
Hopping around on about 40 flights to visit Maine, Delaware, Nevada, New York, Connecticut, California, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Thailand and the Philippines,
Sitting courtside when Stephen Curry set the NBA record for 3-pointers (I won't confirm nor deny that I gave him some pre-game shooting tips),
And, the most dangerous of all, attending my first Oakland Raiders home game.
But to be honest with you, all of the things on that list are entertaining ways to pass the time - and the photos look great on Facebook - but they really don't mean much, do they? I can take them or leave them, as my life is no longer a pursuit of comfort, pleasure, or gratification. In fact, it's the people that I meet and connect with along the way that mean everything, no matter how humble their lives.
So over the next 365 days, there's one important thing I want to achieve in 2017:
For me, this coming year will be a time to rededicate myself to service of others. As far as I can tell, that's why I'm here. I've done a lot of thinking and soul searching, and that's the only thing I can come up with that makes sense.
Like the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Any man can be great because any man can serve."
I don't expect to ever be rich, famous, particularly successful, or even comfortable, but I can pursue what's most meaningful and gratifying in life by serving others around me - the one and only goal that will matter in 2017 – or at all.
That and inventing the flying car, because someone's got to do it!
Happy 2017 and I wish you and your family all the health, prosperity, and happiness in the world.
15. Understand the difference between real life and renderings of life.
We’re all guilty of it to some degree: scanning internet headlines, social media posts, and the nightly news and then forming our entire world view accordingly. We might even become frustrated, angry and isolating when others don't agree. But these incomplete snippets of information aren't the real thing, only extremely incomplete and biased representations, or, as they say, a case of the tail wagging the dog. Accepting these as the "way things are" or calcifying your global opinion based on them is not only polarizing and inaccurate, it's dangerous (as we've seen with recent events.)
16. Be content with what we have.
They say that the secret to true happiness is realizing that what you have is enough. Many people around the world intrinsically know this, and therefore live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives despite poor or difficult circumstances. But in the West, and particularly in the U.S., it seems that the more we have, the more we want (and the more single-minded we become about getting it.)
Trust me when I tell you that the freedom to live a happy life serving your highest purpose comes with less, not more.
17. Live our highest purpose.
That leads me to my last New Year’s wish for the world in 2017: that we endeavor to live our highest purpose. In fact, I’m pretty sure we weren’t put on earth to work, pay bills, buy things, stress, rush, amass more possessions, live in maximum comfort, anesthetize yourself from the world, and then try our damndest to pass this all down to the next generation.
So what are we here for?
That’s the question that will take a lifetime for us to answer, and I wrestle with it at least as much as everyone else. But just the pursuit of such a noble question leads us to some amazing places and, in my humble opinion, a better world for 2017.
If you'd like to read all of my New Year's resolutions for our world in 2017, click here.
Around Christmas time, I found myself living in a new city (Cebu) in a new country (The Philippines) far from home so I wanted to do something meaningful to get in the holiday spirit. So when I heard that they were looking for someone to play Santa Claus for the kids at Everlasting Hope, I immediately said "yes." Denise, a German-Filipina make-up artist living in Cebu coordinating the Santa search, told me more.
For six months, Denise had been helping a 5-year old girl named Gryka who has retinoblastoma, causing rapidly growing tumors, first in her eye and then in her neck, that cause her constant pain.
Aside from taking her to doctors appointments, chemo and treatments, Denise has been raising funds for her medical care since her parents, Margie and Ramil, are very poor. Denise has campaigned tirelessly for Gyrka from the Philippines all the way back to Germany, trying to get the best care and keep up with the mounting cost of the little girl's chemo and radiation.
2. It was a tragic day for America and the human race when Dr. King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, but he wasn’t the only one who died at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis that day. In fact, Lorraine Bailey, a hotel worker and wife of the owner, passed away from a heart attack after hearing of King’s shooting. Lorraine was working the hotel phone switchboard at the time and suffered an incapacitating heart attack after seeing King shot, later dying from the coronary. Since there was no one else working the switchboard, that caused a long delay in calling an ambulance and getting King medical treatment, though it’s unclear if that would have helped him survive the shooting.
To read all of these 15 facts in honor of Martin Luterh King, Jr. and MLK Day, click here.
Here is my pick for the funniest news headline of 2016: Sri Lankan church service prints Tupac rap lyrics by accident
So what was the funniest news headline of 2015? Indonesian villagers mistook sex toy for angel