Thursday, May 23, 2013

Moving On

It has now been a little over a month since I moved to Vietnam, and I must say that things are going great. I am very truly happy with my life here. Of course things are not perfect, but this is the best I have felt in a very long time.

But I must say, that there are times that I feel bad for being so happy, so soon after my parents were killed. I remember after being told that my parents didn't survive, that I could not imagine ever being happy again. And yet, its less then a year later and I am doing great.

I remember at one point during my stay in the rehab center, I was feeling very lonely at nights. I felt that pretty much everyone in my family was married and could lean on their partner for support, but I was single and had to get through the sad nights alone. So I started to visit online dating sites to chat with guys in an attempt to find some kind of companionship. I even thought that maybe I would find someone that I could possibly be with once I got out of the rehab center. But this made me feel very guilty. How could I be thinking about dating so soon after loosing my parents?

I mentioned to a friend that I had been visiting online dating sites and talking to people in an attempt to find some companionship. I told her how guilty I felt because of this. She told me that I should not feel guilty, and that life has to go on. Sitting around and wallowing in sadness for the sake of being sad does no good for anyone. Of course she was right. So why do I now still feel guilty sometimes for having moved on with my life?

There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about my parents. I miss them terribly. I wish I could share with them all the wonderful experiences I am having. I wish that I could speak to them and try and convince them to come out here and visit me. I know that they didn't think so, but they would have really enjoyed a trip out here.

My parents deaths have left a hole in my life that nothing can ever fill. No matter how happy I ever am, they will always be missing. My life will never feel a hundred percent right. But staying sad all the time for the sake of staying sad helps no one. So I've moved on.

I know that there are people that have a set idea of how much time after a tragedy someone must wait before moving and rebuilding. Some people get this amount of time based on their religious beliefs, some might come up with a number based on certain "social standards". Growing up as an Orthodox Jew, I was always told that this was 11 months. But the truth is that the number varies from person to person. Some people need to mourn longer and some need to move on quicker. Any attempt to force someone into some uniformed standard will probably do more harm then good.

There will be a moment every day for the rest of my life that I think about how I lost my parents and I will be sad. But the moment will pass and I will go on doing what I have to in order to be happy. A life spent being miserable is not a life that I would want to live. So I've moved on.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

You Have Never Seen Anything Like This!

I really love being in Vietnam. I have a great time and I think this country has a lot to offer. Of course that does not mean that Vietnam does not have its faults. One of the craziest things I have ever seen and experienced is the road and driving culture of this country. If you have never been here, I promise that you have never seen anything like it.

To start off with, at any given intersection, there can easily be 50, 60, plus motor bikes crowded together, waiting to continue on. It is not uncommon to see a family of three or four people on the same motorbike.
A family of 4 on one bike waiting at a crowded intersection
I am always impressed by the the ladies wearing nice dresses or skirts, who somehow keep their balance while riding side saddle as the bike weaves and shakes through traffic. Why is the bike weaving and shaking through the traffic? That is because there are basically no rules on the roads of Hanoi. The traffic patterns in Hanoi can only be described as chaos. Some motorbikes go slow and block traffic, while others speed around them cutting one another off. Many motorbikes do not have rear view mirrors, so everyone is constantly tapping on their horn to inform their fellow drivers of where they are on the road. Of course the lack of rear view mirrors are less of an issue for the drivers going the wrong way down the road. And all of this is going along as every motorbike driver is trying to avoid the ever growing number of cars on the road. (Video below)

This might sounds very scary to someone that has never seen anything like it. However, having driven here in Hanoi, I realized that this chaos actually works. In general, no one wants to be in an accident, so most drivers are very careful. On top of that, traffic in the city rarely goes any faster then 30 or 40 km/h (18mph to 25mph). Driving in Hanoi is one of the more interesting experiences I have ever had. And once you are in the traffic, you realize it is not that scary.

What really was scary was being in a car outside of the city. Two weeks ago, me and some friends went on a trip to an Island. We had to go to the port by Ha Long, a 5 hour drive from Hanoi. Most of the roads up to Ha Long were 2 lane highways that cut right through small villages and cities along the way.

A Map of our route to Ha Long

For the locals of these villaes, the road is a local one, and they dive along the road at the same slow pace as in Hanoi. But for those using the roads as a highway, they speed along at speeds up to 80 or so km/h (50mph plus). And of course people are weaving in out of traffic trying to avoid the slow drivers, not to mention the vehicles that are going the wrong way down the highway. Besides the speeds, another major difference between these roads and Hanoi is that most of the vehicles are not motorbikes, rather they are huge trucks and buses. I remember sitting in the front seat of our taxi when all the sudden a huge dump truck was heading right for us. And amazingly enough, I was the only one in the car that was scared. For everyone else, this is simply how people drive here.

So being on the roads of Vietnam is an experience in of itself. I hope I did a good job of explaining the organized chaos. You should really come and experience it for yourself. It is quite astonishing.

The Vietnamese are either the world'ss best drivers, or the worst. I have yet to figure out which.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I'm in Vietnam!

Its been about two weeks since I last posted and a very eventful and busy two weeks at that. In fact, I will probably have to divide the events into multiple posts. But the most important bit of news is, I am finally in Vietnam. Years of dreaming, planning, and overcoming obstacles have finally led to this moment.

Over the weeks leading up to my arrival in Vietnam, my friends kept asking me if I was excited yet. I always answered, not yet, but probably when I am on the plane. But once I was on the plane, I still was not excited. After my string of bad luck, I guess I was still prepared for something to go wrong. But nothing went wrong and as soon as my plane touched down in Hanoi, I became so excited and was smiling from ear to ear.

I was met at the airport by my dear friend Hoang. It was so wonderful and emotional seeing him for the first time in nearly two years. The truth is that I was a bit nervous that after not seeing each other for so long, it might be hard to get back into our old the rhythm of joking around. But my concerns were unwarranted. It was as if no time had passed. That is the way it is with special friendships.

Me and Hoang

After a week or so of bouncing around and a trip to Bangkok (I hope to write about the trip in a different post), I finally found the apartment that I will be calling home for the near future. It is a really nice apartment, large roomy and comfortable.But more interesting then the apartment itself, is the location. Back in 2011, during my trip to Vietnam, the area around Truch Bach lake became one of my favorite places in the city. When I was bored, I use to go ride around the lake and enjoy the view and cool air. And now, nearly two years later, I am living about a 1 minute walk away from the lake. During all those many drives around the lake, I never even imagined I could live there, and yet here I am.

Truch Bach Lake

My whole moving to Vietnam can be looked at in a similar way. While I had planned this and wanted it for a while, the accident, the loss of my parents and my injuries really could have put an end to my plans. I know that many of my friends told me that they expected me to give up on this particular dream after the accident. But I did not. A mere 7 months after everything was destroyed, I am living a dream and for the most part, I am happy.

Who would have thought?  :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Goodbye Israel: A Breakup Letter

Dear Israel,

There is no nice way to say this, but it is time we ended our relationship. Even though we have been together for 10 and half years, I am sure that this break up does not come as a surprise to you. For quite a while now, I have obviously not been happy with this relationship. Nothing good can come from continuing down this path. I am sorry.

This is not to say that it was always bad. I remember the first time we met. I was very young, just 10 years old. It really was love at first sight. I told my parents that I didn't want to go home and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. They told me that I was too young and that I had to wait until I was older. I was disappointed and sad, but I swore to myself that the second I was old enough, we would be together.
Love at First Sight 

Over the next few years, I visited you a number of times, and each time my love for you only grew. I could not wait to finish high school so that I would be old enough and I could go off and be with you. And that is exactly what I did. 3 months after graduating, we were finally together.

At first things were very good. I was still very much in love and in my eyes, you could do no wrong. But then slowly things started to change. You became very demanding and made everything difficult for no reason. Nothing I ever did for you was good enough. And you always managed to back out of any support that you promised to give me in return for all I was doing for you. I left everything I knew to be with you, and you did not appreciate me. I was very nearly killed protecting you, and you still continued to treat me like I was not doing enough for you.

I tried to stick by you, I really did. But as I grew up and matured, you rejected the changes I made in my life.I began to see the world a little differently then you do and for you, this was completely unacceptable. You made sure that there were consequences for my falling out of line. You began to treat me as if I was less. Why? After all I had done for you and all I had given you, why couldn't you accept me as I am?

It was at this point that I decided that we could no longer be together. I had put your happiness ahead of my own for too long and that is not a sacrifice I am willing to make any more. And quite frankly, you do not deserve that kind of dedication. You screwed me over every opportunity you got. But this is where it ends.

I am sure we will still see each other. After all, we have many mutual friends. And maybe it does say something positive about you that so many of my great friends love you so much. But, I do not feel the same. So...Goodbye

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Letter to my Parents: No. 2

Dear Mommy and Abba,

It has been a tough, emotional week. Since most of the day I just sit at home alone while everyone I know is at work or school, I have lots of time to think. To start with, Monday would have been your birthday Abba. To be honest, I have been so bored, and have had nothing to do, so I rarely look at a calender and am more often than not unaware of the exact date. The day almost slipped by without me noticing that it was in fact March 18th. However, since I had to switch the billing notifications that used  your email to my email, I received a number of "Happy Birthday Ari Horowitz" emails. When I saw these emails, my first reacting was to feel sad and to miss you, which was soon followed by guilt for not realizing up to that point that it was your birthday. Sorry.

Since that day, there has been lots of talk about Pesach (Passover). Everyone is being very sweet and concerned for me. I have been invited to spend the seder (Passover holiday meal) with many different people. While I do appreciate everyone's invitations, I have decided to stay home and skip the seder this year. While I am sure this is not what you would have wanted, I really don't see another option.

Up until this year, I have spent every single seder with you both. Even when I was in the army, I always managed to arrange vacation for the holiday and you flew into Israel so we could spend the holiday together. The idea of sitting at a seder without hearing the songs sung by people other then the two of you is something I really don't think I could handle. I cannot imagine a seder without your Zionist interpretations of the story Abba. And Mommy, who else will whisper back and forth with me about how things are taking too long and we have to speed up?

I remember last year's seder when it was just the three of us at a hotel by the Dead Sea. We discussed that since I was planning to move to Vietnam in December of 2012, that I would have to fly back to Israel for Pesach, 2013so that the whole family could be together for the holiday. It was just so obvious that we would spend the holiday together. I never could have imagined that that would be our last Pesach together.

So, while I know that you would prefer that I would agree to join a different seder this year, I would much rather simply ignore the holiday as best as I can. If I were to go to another seder, I imagine that I would just be sad the entire time and that would not be nice for me or my hosts.

I really miss the both of you very much. Now that I am back in Israel, I still find myself every Friday (including today) anticipating a phone call at 2pm, just like you had done almost every Friday over the last 10 years. I miss talking to you and seeing you. It will never feel normal that you are not around anymore. You will always be missing.

I am about to take a big step in my life when I move to Vietnam in 19 days from now. I know that this was a dream of mine that made you both very apprehensive, but at the same time you supported me because you knew that it was important to me. It is going to be very hard not being able to share this with you.

All I can say is that no matter what happens in my future, I will always be thinking of you both. And I guess that in some twisted, psychological way that will be my way of continuing to share my life with you even though you are gone. It will have to do.

I will love you both forever,


My Parents

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sharp Turn Ahead

I used to have very specific long term dreams. When I was a young teenager, my dream was to move to Israel, join the army and become a career officer. In the end, I moved to Israel, joined the army, realized that I hated every second of being in the army, and dumped the idea of becoming an officer.  My next dream was to go study at a university, get into a graduate program as quickly as possible, and start a career in academia. And of course, the idea of being a successful academic was part of a larger dream of building a life for myself in Israel. In the end, I started my studies as soon as I possibly could, signed up for a joint BA/MA program, learned that I did not enjoy the world of academia and dropped the idea of becoming an academic.And the longer I lived in Israel, the more I realized, I really do not like living in Israel.

Is anyone else noticing a pattern here? Some might say that I am a quitter. I would disagree with them because while I moved on from ideas that no longer made me happy, I never quit. I finished my army service, I finished my schooling and I've lived in Israel for 10 years.

When I used to hear about people that were "trying to find themselves", I would feel very superior. I used to be so sure that I knew who I was and where I wanted to go. What were these "flakes" doing traveling to India or some other seemingly random exotic country to find selves? I always knew who I was, how could someone not know who they are? What did it mean to "find one's self"?

It turns out that I was not superior. Nor did I know myself. Anyone that knows me, or has read this blog knows how true that is. I once thought I was a heterosexual, religious guy. I have since "realized" (grown?) that I am a homosexual, secular guy. I used to be someone who's identity was deeply rooted in Jewish nationalism and I have since realized that I am an intense individualist. I used to be someone with very specific long term dreams. I am now a person that has no idea what I want to do, or where I want to be in the long run.

In 23 days, my 10 and a half years of living in Israel will be coming to an end and I will be moving across Asia to Vietnam. Why? Because I want to (that is the easiest answer). And because I am on a journey to find myself. (I know, I am such a flake!) I am starting a new chapter with the hope that this change will make me happier and that maybe I will learn some more about myself and where where I want to go.

When I started this blog, the main idea was to write about my leaving religion, and my coming out as gay. I chose the name "Off the Path and onto the Road" because it symbolized the orthodox Jewish view of me going astray from the "religious path" and my view of starting to proceed on my own road. Those chapters in my life are over for now and my road is leading to other new adventures.

 While I am sure I will continue to write about religion on occasion, I assume there will be less motivation once I am in Vietnam. I assume that the main focus of my writing will be about being a stranger in a strange land (extra points to those that get the Bible reference) and my continues search for happiness and love. I do hope that my readers that have followed me along my road thus far will continue to follow me as the road takes a drastically different shape. And as always, I am deeply touched by each and every one of you that reads what I have to share. Thank you.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Last Month

It has been about a month since I left America to come back to Israel, and since I last wrote here in my blog. I would like to apologize for not writing as often as I had in the past. But the truth is I have not had much to write about and have had a major lack of inspiration. Simply put, my life has been pretty uneventful lately. But this will all change soon...

Now that I am back in Israel, I am slowly closing up my life here. I am finishing up my degree and dealing with banking issues and Israeli bureaucracy. These are hardly the types of events that lead to great blog posts.

While I originally thought that I would go back to work when I got back to Israel, I returned to find out that there was no room for me at my old job, nor could I find a new job for the  2 months that I had left in Israel. So most of the time, I am simply bored.

However, in exactly one month from today, I will be taking the next major step in my life's journey. On April 9th I will board a plane and will be moving to Viet Nam. While this move was planned over two years ago, it has gained considerable significance over the last half year. Six months ago my life was forever changed when my parents were killed and I was badly injured in a freak car accident. For those that have been following my blog, they know that over the last few months I have struggled with coming to grips with the loss my parents, facing my own mortality, and trying to find a positive out look on my future.

From Israel to Viet Nam

This move to Viet Nam offers me a new beginning. Of course a real new beginning is not possible. I will always be who I am and I will always have experienced what I have experienced. But now I am going to a completely new country, with a different culture, different challenges and different possibilities. I will be looking for a new job and meeting new people. And anyone that knows me, knows that I have not been happy with life in Israel for some time now.I am hoping that this drastic change of setting will help me find the happiness for which I am so intensely looking.

Hanoi, Viet Nam - Where I will be moving to

Life in Hanoit should prove to be very different then life in Tel Aviv or New Jersey

Now begins my last month in Israel. I hope that it will present me with more interesting and inspiring experiences so that I can update this blog more often. But if it does not, I am sure that my move across the globe on April 9th with lead to some interesting posts. So stay tuned!

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Next Step: Leaving the US

When I landed in America last September 10th, I was coming for a 9 day trip to visit my parents during the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashana. I was so excited for this visit, because me and my parents were getting along really well after sometime of awkwardness and we were as close as ever. I would never in a million years had guessed that there would be a horrible accident that would leave me badly injured and without parents.

For the last 5 months I have been in New Jersey slowly recovering from my injuries, both mentally and physically. I have undergone multiple surgeries and months of physical and occupational therapy. Throughout this time I have been surrounded by amazing, caring and loving people. My aunt and uncle have stepped up to help guide me through the medical and legal issues surrounding the accident. My parents friends have been a constant source of support and friendship. My life long friends have been by my side to help me with anything I could need. Two friends in particular opened up their home to me and allowed me to live with them over the last few months.

I have also met many new and wonderful people that helped me and forever left their mark on my life. Many members of the online community of formerly religious Jews made the effort to come visit me in this hospital and the rehab center. Today I am lucky enough to consider these people real friends. There is also my friend David who has been a source of happiness and companionship and his wonderful family that warmly welcomed me into their home.

I do not know how I would have gotten through this hard period of my life without all these people. I  can never find the words to express my gratitude to everyone, but suffice it to say that I am eternally grateful.

Now it is time for me to move on. My recovery has progressed to the point that I am ready to return to Israel where there is a whole new set of challenges waiting for me. I am extremely apprehensive about going back, but I know that this is the necessary next step on my path to find happiness. And while I am leaving the wonderful people that were so supportive of me while I was here in New Jersey, I will soon have my dear friends in Israel to help me through the next chapter.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Atheists in Foxholes

A common phrase used by some religious leaders to both put down atheist and forward their own agenda is, "there are no atheists in foxholes". The sentiment behind this line is that when someone's life is in danger, everyone will turn to "god". After all, many religious leaders dismiss atheists as nothing more than childish rebels, rebelling for the sake of rebelling. They do not acknowledge the fact that most atheists have well thought out reasons based on logic and evidence as to why they do not believe in religion. And if this were true, when faced with their mortality, these rebels would be likely to "return to 'god'" to save their lives. However, this is not the case and of this, I am living proof.

I will never forget the horrible pain of the car hitting me on the sidewalk this past September. The pain was so intense and so total that I remember clearly thinking, "OK this is it, I am dying" and excepting the fact that my life was over. I did not think about "god" or religion.

Well I did not die. I laid on the ground with my elbow shattered, bones sticking out of my arm and my foot twisted and facing the wrong way. When I was made aware that we were all struck by a car and that I did not know what happened to my parents, I panicked. I screamed and begged the EMTs and the good samartitans that had come over to help us to tell me what was going on with my parents. No one told me. When I was brought to the ER, I literally asked everyone I saw for information on my parents conditions, but no one would tell me.

I do not know exactly how long it was until I learned that my parents were in fact killed, but it seemed like a couple of hours. During those hours I cried and I begged for information. I never once thought about a "god". I never once prayed to "god" to ask for "its" help. 

I know many people will dismiss my lack of belief in any deity by saying I am just angry at god. But this is not the case because I am an atheist. I really, honestly do not believe that there is a god. How could I be angry at something that I do not think exists? How could I turn to such a thing for help in my time of need? I could no more turn to a unicorn, or a dragon, or a wizard in my time of need. If in my mind, I really thought that there was any chance of their being a god that could listen to my prayers and help, I assure you I would have prayed and prayed a lot. But the thought never occurred to me.

I am not writing this because I am trying to use the killing of my parents to "spread atheism". I really do not care what other people genuinely believe (unless their beliefs come to hurt me or others). However, after hearing over and over again that "there are no atheists in foxholes", I wanted to show that this is not true. This also shows that my atheism is not just a rebellion based on "anger". I have been accused of being an atheist because I am angry about being gay (which I am not). And since the accident, I was told that I am an atheist just because I am angry at "god" for killing my parents. But "god" did not kill my parents so I cannot be angry at "it".

Even further, while many believers believe that it is in the "foxholes of life" that people will turn to "god", to me, the "foxholes of life" reconfirm that there is no loving, protecting god. I do not think that a loving protecting god would allow for war and genocide. I do not think that a loving and protecting god would have allowed my parents to be killed because some irresponsible moron decided to be a total idiot and drive with a big wild dog, loose in the front seat. When I see everything that can go wrong with the world, why would that lead me, or anyone to think that there is an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient god?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Public Displays of Love and Violence

I was having a semi-political discussion with a very conservative relative this past Friday night. We were trying very hard to state our opinions without offending one another. For my part, I was trying to steer the conversation towards the topic of gay rights because I am curious about how my relatives feel about the subject. While I know that most of my relatives have always been anti-gay marriage, anti-gay pride, etc, I often hope that my coming out might have changed that. I would like to think that my family would like to see me happy and therefore might have rethought some of their opinions on these subjects. Usually this has not happened. I do not take it personally because I know that my relatives believe what they do, and in spite of their beliefs have not cut me out of their lives for which I am grateful.

During our brief debate, my relative said, "people should be able to do whatever they want, they just shouldn't be able to shove it in my face". What I took this to at first was that LGBTQ people can do what they want, just don't hold hands/kiss/hug in public. However, I realized that my cousin was not just talking about LGBTQ people. He would prefer it if no one showed any signs of physical affection in public. He is not the first person I ever met that finds public displays of affection (PDA) uncomfortable, so I just dropped the subject.

The next day we were discussing movies. My cousin said that he highly recommends the new Quentin Tarantino movie, Django Unchained. I said that I do not like most Tarantino movies because I do not like gore for the sake of gore in movies. My cousin could not disagree more. He told me that he loves great action movies and that violence does not bother him. And just like my cousin, millions, upon millions love to go watch action movies full of gore and violence. I myself like a good action movie, or war movie if I think it is made well and has a good story. And just like my cousin, society at large has less of a problem with violence than they do with PDA. And when I thought about it like that, I became quite annoyed.

If a movie has a a scene where a bunch of people are shot, or blown up, it will get a PG-13 rating (meaning the movie is suited for 13 year old teens and up). If a movie has a minimal about of sexuality in it, it will be given a rating of R (meaning the movie is suited for 17 year old people and up). Why is it that violence and killing is less offensive to children and the public at large than love and sex? Why is is that America has a culture that guns are passed down from father to son, but many parents cannot accept that their teenagers and young adult children might be sexually active? Why is it that graphic slasher movies are main stream, but pornography is considered one of the most offensive things in society? Why is violence glorified and sex and love are shunned?

This is of course not a problem only in America. Most religions around the world are more lenient and accepting of violence than they are of sex and love. Judaism, Christianity and Islam have harsh regulations on sexuality and love, but all have many allowances for violence. The Torah (the Old Testament) for its part has allowances for war, genocide and slavery, but two men having sex is not tolerated. Islam stifles any sense of female sexuality and love (let alone homosexual sexuality and love), yet glories Muhammad's conquest's and massacres. These 3 religions that sadly lay at the base of much of the world's moral guidelines are quite twisted and have lead to twisted world views. We have to ask ourselves if we really want to live in a society that is more offended by two people kissing in public, or by a gay pride parade than by a man holding an M-16 assault rifle. If the answer is no, the next question is, how do we start changing society to one the glorifies love and admonishes violence. 

If the picture on the left offends you more than the picture on the right,
you might want to rethink your priorities.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

You Never Know

First let me start by apologizing to my readers for not updating my blog in a bit over a month. The truth is that I was simply not inspired enough to write anything. In spite of the fact that my life was calming down and I had been surrounded by caring friends and family, my life had become very mundane and uneventful. I spend my time staying by friends and going to physical and occupational therapy, with the occasional fun get together with friends. As I said, this left me uninspired. However, this weekend, that changed.

A few months back, when I was still in the rehab center, I was on one of the gay Facebook groups of which I am a member. One of the members of the group shared a video clip of them dancing. Me and another friend in the group both watched the video. I told my friend that I thought this guy dancing (who's name is David) was really great looking and he told me that I should try and talk to him. My first thought was that there was no way that this guy would give me the time of day.He was out of my league and wouldn't want to be bothered by someone like myself. My friend told me not assume anything about people and to try and strike up a conversation. So I did.

Me and David became pretty good friends. In fact he saved me from many of the loneliest nights in the rehab center by chatting or Skyping with me. He was not mean and did not treat me like I was beneath him in any way. And over the last few months we have stayed in touch.
Me and David

In person, David was just as nice and we had a wonderful time together. In fact, the weekend that I spent with him was easily the happiest I have been since before the accident. And not only was hanging out with David so great, his parents were extremely nice and friendly people who  warmly welcomed me into their home.
Me, David and his parents

To think that all of this might never had happened, had I followed my initial instinct and not messaged David in that Facebook group. I would have missed out on having a great friend and the wonderful trip up north. While the tragedies of the accident has taught me that you never know what horrible things can happen, my friendship with David has reminded me that you never know what wonderful things might happen. And while over the last few months, the fear of suddenly dying or being injured was the driving force in my life to go find happiness as quickly as possible (before it is too late), I am now inspired to go forward, excitingly waiting to see what other wonderful things might be coming my way.