Leaving Twenty Ten


To say it’s been a long, difficult year is the understatement of the year. Few have been spared from the thrashing waves of change and misfortune that coursed through this year, whether it’s continued joblessness, lack of health insurance to cover necessary medical treatment, or the shock of sudden natural disasters. In my own life, I’ve been dealt a number of blows in fairly rapid succession. Since I’m not one to divulge every detail of my life to the world, I will only say that no other year has been as mentally draining or as psychologically challenging as 2010. I am grateful to have made it this far without resorting to substance abuse or public fits of berserk rage (it always helps to vent to someone who’s willing to listen).

What I will carry forward with me in 2011 is what I want to focus on in this last post of 2010. Every challenge has yielded some truth about human nature, the world, and the complex machinery of life. Some lessons hit me over the head, while others sunk in gradually as I made sense of a situation. I’m not done fully processing all that has happened this year, nor do I expect to glean all the answers anytime soon.

For now, here are the headlines for my twenty takeaways of 2010:

  1. See the world as it sees itself
  2. Get over yourself (practice humility)
  3. Live a principled life
  4. Remember what’s important, and make time for it
  5. Take responsibility, whether it’s chosen or not
  6. Accept a little imperfection
  7. Know the limits of reason
  8. Appreciate the role of faith (acknowledge the 1% you can’t explain)
  9. Be patient when the speed of life doesn’t match the gear you’re in
  10. Leave room for the unexpected
  11. Look up at the stars sometimes, for perspective
  12. Encourage humanity in the face of incivility
  13. Abolish self-doubt and thoughts of defeat
  14. Always seek answers and solutions (don’t dwell on problems)
  15. Embrace those closest to you
  16. Never be satisfied
  17. Strive for excellence
  18. Seek truth and avoid cheap substitutes
  19. Listen carefully
  20. Don’t be so hard on yourself — enjoy life once in a while

I could elaborate on every one of these points, but I think the message is pretty clear. Looking forward to better things in 2011!


  1. Chris Butler says:

    Michael, as usual you cut right to the heart here and say so clearly what I would probably take 4,000 words to convey. But I’m right there with you: With 2010 came some of the highest highs and the lowest lows of my life. It’s been exhausting, disorienting, surprising, and humbling — and I’m quite sure I wouldn’t want to repeat it had I the opportunity.

    Just about every point on your list speaks to me in some way, mostly encouraging or convicting, especially #’s 2, 6 (I’m accepting a lot for the time being), 8 (and it seems to me I lack explanation for something closer to 99%), 15, and 20 (a friend of mine commented disapprovingly on my ascetic lifestyle, “You do have a body, you know”).

    Let’s chat soon and get an in-person visit on the calendar…

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks for keeping the conversation going here, Chris! I would be very interested to read your 4,000 words on this subject.

    I’d like to think that the worst is behind us and there’s nowhere left to go but up (with a little guidance), but only time will tell for sure. Guarded optimism is the way to go in 2011!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *