The Year Without Hope.

As I originally started writing this post, I remembered that it was this time 15 years ago when I made my way to the West Coast to live. I felt that I had outgrown my life in Texas, and wanted to see what else was out there. Thus began my life in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, and all that has come with it. It has been an unforgettable ride.

Under normal circumstances, I would start one of these “End of Year” posts with some message of hope and optimism….

This year, I just don’t have it in me.

2016 was a disappointing and sad year with a lot of loss. The actor, musician, and artist loss still continues well into these final days, from royalty purple to galactic. Personal relationships were severed, from politically to philosophically, one lost to violence over the Summer, to one that I’m not sure what entirely happened. And I didn’t think another former friend would “rip off and skip off” on me this year, but people can be surprising. Two months of the 4th of July can teach you that lesson in ways you hadn’t considered.

2016 was the year where the dangers of unchecked social media became more apparent, and how misinformation and negativity has turned the world wide web from a new digital frontier to a cesspool of poor writing and even more poor attitudes. There is a lot of garbage out there, and rather than further contribute to it, I’m going to look for ways to better train and educate how to make well-written, useful contributions. The same as with human manners and interactions, the time has come to teach the same for online connection. We have the equivalent of a supercomputer in our pocket. Why are we not better for it?

My social presence is going to be changing. I’ll still share blogs and life updates, photos, and little nuggets of humor, observation, or wisdom, but what I create has to have meaning. And I’m simplifying my presence and removing negative elements.

Still, for me, there were moments found within this year: The ACMAs and Billboard are always unique moments in my life, from Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum shaking my hand while telling me I’ve done a good job of standing in for Dierks Bentley, to my friends and I singing along with Madonna and Stevie Wonder during rehearsals for a Prince tribute, I’m so fortunate for these experiences, and no matter what happens, they will always be mine. From seeing stage productions of Beauty and the Beast, to Star Trek and Lionel Richie concerts, to meeting Joey Lauren Adams at Pensacon… then running into her again a month later. I got to experience some “wizarding magic” at Universal Studios. I even met Stan Lee because I held out for one moment longer. I’ve found my place better, and like I was in 2001, I find that I am wanting more.

2016 has changed me. I thought about it while in Dallas last September tending to family matters, and while reunited with my friends from Midway Texas. Life is about lessons, and even in its most perceived “unfair”, I grew up with a life of security, love, and support… a life that I set so much aside to go see what else was out there. In my independence, I have experienced some profound and life changing things, and there’s a part of me that wonders if it’s finally time to revise how I tell those stories.

I realize these days that the world in general is not safe. There are people out there who are only in this “life” thing for themselves, or will try to bring you down because it pleases them to do so, or you didn’t word your feelings in a way that they found “satisfactory”. I worry more now than I ever have before due to a newfound sense of insecurity that’s come from the passage of time and recent events. There are few things that remind of life’s fragility more and the fact that you’re getting older than the loss of one’s heroes. That’s not “celebrity worship” for me. I’ve met and worked with a handful of those that passed this year, and my Dad was also one of those heroes for me. 2016 was not the leading cursed or supernatural shareholder of loss, though I and others felt that in many ways.

For that reason, there’s going to be some changes. Not for the world, but for me. Jen and I have some big plans coming up. We’re putting all else aside to finally get married. No more delays. We’re focusing more on family, and I’m allowing my sense of nostalgia and sentiment to guide my path more this next year. I’m going to start fighting back and defending the helpless more, support the needs of my friends and family, and work to be a little more kind to people. We’re all going to have to be a little nicer to each other to survive the coming changes. But I’m going to be so less patient with injustices.

And changes…. Once we get a few things going, 2017 is going to be a very different year. It’s time that I do more of what I love, where I love, with who I love. That announcement will come in about a month or two once we get a few things confirmed. I’ll be excited to share those plans with you when that time comes.

I have lived a very fortunate life, and I reflect on that often. Am I as “famous” as I once wanted to be? Still not yet, but my life has compensated me in so many other ways. I’m still looking for “my” moment. But a lot of soul searching and searching with the soulmate tells me that there’s more to see. And time’s a wasting otherwise.

So no, I don’t have “hope” or “optimism” starting into this new year. I do however, have “support” and “resolve”. And love. 2017′s going to find that I am a tough son of a bitch to knock down, and I’m not quitting until I say that it’s time to. I still have a few “life goals” to attend to.

Love each other. Be kind. Be understanding. Be human.

Be more.