That's when it occurred to me that I could keep Ryan's spirit alive inside of me. I desperately wanted to honour him in some way and show him that I learned from him - to show him that he inspired me and everyone around him. When I look back at this blog now, I can see that it began as my way of keeping Ryan alive while grieving his loss - but it turned into so much more than that. Through this experience, not only have I learned how to step outside my comfort zone and "go for it," but I've also learned so much about myself and the life that I want to live.
I still miss Ryan like crazy. We all do. He was such a unique, spirited individual. A true adventurer, he had no fear and most definitely lived his life to the fullest. As I landed my first trick on the longboard, swam with sharks, and cranked out Pearl Jam on the flute, I could hear his high-pitched voice squeal with delight, "Right on, Kirst!" with each skill/experience, I really felt like he was right there with me. I look back on each adventure with unbelievable fondness and pride. There is something so exhilarating about stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something new. I fully intend to live, as best as I can, adhering to this philosophy.
Although I expected to learn fabulous new skills and "seize the day," I never expected to learn so much about myself as a person and the life that I want to live. Like most people (I assume), I've struggled throughout my life to figure out who I am and who I want to be. With social networks all the rage, it's much too easy to portray yourself as the person you think you should be...the person society wants you to be. I've found myself clicking through classmates Facebook pages and feeling like I'm not meeting "life's" expectations. I'm 33! I SHOULD have this. I SHOULD be this. I SHOULD be that. I SHOULD be like this person. Why do we do this to ourselves? Upon reflecting on Ryan's life philosophy as well as meeting so many unique people throughout the year - individuals who simply live out their passions without apology (think Randy and his love of the longboard and Nancy and her commitment to her dogs), I've realized how important it is to simply be "me."
Ryan contributed so much to this world - but most of all, he contributed "Ryan." There most certainly is and never will be another "Ryan." There was good, there was bad, there was ugly, but no matter what, Ryan never pretended to be someone he wasn't. You were guaranteed to get 100% genuine, "Ryan." That was his gift to us.
I've learned that this is how I want to live my life. When I was contemplating that oh so difficult "mindfulness" question, "Who are you?" and began re-reading all my blog entries over the past year, it suddenly occurred to me - each and every entry in this blog is 100% me. Sometimes good (how awesome was that longboard video?), sometimes bad (the flute was a struggle) and sometimes ugly (wow, I was a real riot after knee surgery). It was 100% Kirstie. I wrote directly from my mind and my heart and stopped worrying about how I SHOULD be or how I wanted to be perceived by others. It's just me. That makes me feel proud. I intend to keep searching for the best version of "Kirstie" and live out my unique life story, without apologies - without worrying if I'm meeting these imaginary "Facebook" expectations. When I leave this world, I want people to feel like they really knew me - like they really connected to me in some way.
So, Ryan, thank you. Thank you for this year. Thank you for this insight. Thank you for sharing your true self with us for 31 years. The world is not the same without you. We miss you more than words can express. You will live forever in our hearts and in all the fantastic "Ryan" memories that we will carry with us forever. Thanks for the ride. Peace.