2015 was the last year that I’ll spend alone.
(Let me explain.)
My year was full of positive things — things few would consider lonesome: time spent with friends, working with clients and business partners, feeling companionship, creating in teams, resurrecting my writers’ group, amazing travels, kind faces, workshops, family, yoga classes, and more.
My annual tradition of writing a Year-in-Review piece could be spent reflecting on those blessings. It would all be true.
But there’s a bigger trend in my life and mission that I wish to open up and share — and, frankly, the idea of looking back to recap the cool stuff about my year seems self-flattering at best and boring at worst.
While winter is upon us and so too is a season of rest, I say a time for reflection is no reason to be boring.
So let me say what scares me instead:
That this year was the last I’ll spend alone.
May 2016 will mark the seven year anniversary of a landmark moment in my life. It was when I quit my job and, in doing so, committed to living my life the only way I knew how: by choosing myself, and figuring out the rest later.
To be honest, I’m a bit embarrassed to still bring up quitting my job — not only because it feels so long ago, but because it is hardly a thing to make oneself a martyr over.
It was a privilege to have a job to quit at all. I chose to change a life that was a far cry from a burden.
The leap I took when I decided to leave a young career behind in 2009 had nothing to do with circumstance, and everything to do with my soul-work.
The who-what-where details were footnotes to what karma my soul was carrying — what my soul needed to heal: old wounds I was carrying, and perhaps still am.
I’m still not quite certain about what those wounds were, but they had to do with power, and leadership, and giving, and being of service in this lifetime.
And, seven years ago, some part of me thought that quitting my job and “choosing myself” in this one, kinda-defiant, possibly-ill-advised, but entirely-definitive-feeling moment, would be enough to change… everything.
I thought that I was making a big enough leap, a crazy enough departure from one lifestyle or convention, and as a result life would give it’s God-blessing.
As if, Poof, “Well done, you did it.”
Seven years later, I know now that it takes much more than one life decision — one choice, like my decision to quit my job and “choose myself” — to heal the old, very old wounds we carry with us from one lifetime to the next.
It can take lifetimes to undo what’s been done — what burdens we carry — and lifetimes more to heal, before becoming who and what we’re supposed to become in this life, the one you and I share today.
I can’t say for certain that I’ve done all of that.
But I feel as though I’ve done enough.
Enough, for now, in these seven years, to graduate from one iteration of my journey — the solo one, the alone one, the “me” one — into the next:
“No longer alone.”
The last seven odd years of my life have revolved around a self-journey, in many senses: not “isolated,” neither refusing others nor living in spite of them. But these last seven years weren’t nearly as for others — for the world, in partnership, in communion — as I might have wanted, or wanted to have believed.
On the surface, I thought I was treading a path to give and serve and share words with the world.
But deep down, under the surface and in my heart, those missives — the ones I thought I was pursuing — were taking me down a path that led within.
I had been laying an internal foundation — in writing, in yoga, in creative entrepreneurship and teaching, business, travel, and more — to actually begin the work I’m meant to do.
I say today that I’m finally ready to do that.
(At least, more ready than I’ve ever been.)
For seven years, the journey has been about me, my soul-work, healing my karma, and uncovering the man I am — from practicing to sitting still; unlearning what’s old and building anew; forgetting plenty and remembering much more; letting go of who I thought I was, and striving to be better than the “me” of yesterday.
For seven years, the journey was “me.” It had to be “me” first, I think. It’s where we all begin.
Because the Self is home.
Self is the root of every origin story.
We have to start with Self before Others can be truly witnessed, truly seen, truly served.
From a Self known and loved, everything is possible. From a Self feared or fractured, anything can feel like an arduous, impossible task.
Self had to come first in my journey. As it has to come first in yours.
And 2015 was the last year of those years “alone,” on my own:
Alone on my journey, alone in my soul-work, alone on my path.
It shows up in just how intently my life, big choices and travels throughout this last year sought out others, demanded companions, yearned for partnership, craved love, and found joy in the presence of souls.
Cherished journeys abroad to cities, countries and places felt hollow and lonesome not in the company of peers, old friends or new ones.
These feelings made themselves known across New York City, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Prague, Berlin, Istanbul, Reykjavik and India.
Years ago and in my independence, I might not have realized at all.
But this year, I sought connection and partnership and companions feverishly — because it’s the last year that I’ll spend alone.
And wherever I journeyed, I was intent to teach — to receive by sharing, by caring, by giving away.
So I taught were I went and gave where I could: from Rhode Island to Georgia to Iceland, Germany and India, too.
In my writing and creative work, I gave up an old dream to be a best-selling author — a journey of Self and his words — and instead, decided to share words and workshops and group guided meditations, because I could.
Because communion called.
After a year hiatus, I resurrected my writers’ group, The Literati Writers, and have since welcomed more than 60 writers from 11 countries.
The call was so great to rally fellow conscientious creatives into a safe space, a protected enclave, a creative home that, even online, could inspire like-souls to connect, share, uplift, empower and invigorate their solo creative journeys alongside “brethren and sistren in creative arms.”
I led over 100 hours of yoga classes and workshops — and taught an Intro to Poetry Writing class with advanced age students at the University of Rhode Island this summer.
Where I once felt drained and depleted from teaching, in 2015 I instead felt invigorated; truly at home in the presence of others; of equals.
Ever the “I’ll figure it out on my own” type of guy, I partnered with Fabio and Danilo Carlucci, founders of the Berlin-based startup Amazers, who still help power my online writers’ group today.
And finally, instead of keeping mentor figures at arms-length as I have in years past, I was brought on board to work with longtime friend Michael Margolis of Get Storied and his stellar team to serve a half-dozen clients from Australia, Colombia, South Africa, Europe and the U.S. — all while working with a dozen more of my own Story Shine clients in 2015, who hailed from the U.S., Brazil, Canada and England.
Indeed, 2015 was a year not spent alone.
But, as a result, it’s clear to me now that the last seven years spent “on my own” are truly a thing of the past.
And so it marks the end of a portion of my journey: the starting point, the self-work-first, the “alone” that precedes deeper relationships, more powerful partnerships, and new collaborations that will serve and uplift and inspire in 2016 and beyond.
It’s been a shift years in the making.
I’m glad it’s finally here.
2016 will be a year of partnerships, community, and making music together.
Collaborations, events, unity, and creating alongside one another.
I want you to be a part of it.
We have a world to change, and voices that deserve to be used.
If you’ve been a quiet reader of mine, voice up. Say hello. Tell me about why you’re here — even if you don’t know why.
If you’re just popping by, consider signing up for my newsletter — you’ll get one letter from me, every-other-week:
If you’re a friend, student, or community member who’s stumbled on this post, do me a favor?
Tell me you read this!
I’d love to know that you did.
Then, tell me what kind of stuff you want to show up in your life more in 2016. Tell me what needs to show up less. Wherever we are, whenever our paths cross, let’s leave the small talk behind and open up to explore what really matters to you.
I hope to hear from you. I hope we will make music together.
A big thanks to everyone who made 2015 such a special year for me — you know who you are. I hope to reciprocate in some way, big or small, in 2016 and beyond.
And to you, thank you for reading. Wherever you go in the year ahead, may the journey be good to you — remember to please be good to it.
Until next time, stay unapologetically you and always, always shine on.
P.S. – If you like the photos in this post, follow me on Instagram — I love sharing pictures from my travels and snippets of “real” life behind the work/words: @DaveUrsillo on Instagram
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