Journalism

The heart has its reasons, which the reason does not know

As the sun sets on 2011, I look back on a great year and take a peek into what 2012 holds.

Last night my deodorant fell behind my dresser. While retrieving it, I found two things: a cookie fortune and one of those little paper football things that high school freshman like to make.

The football was nothing cool. The fortune struck a chord, though.

“The heart has its reasons, which the reason does not know.”

I remember saving that slip of paper. I remember the circumstances when I acquired it vaguely, but not clear enough to recall it or tell the story, per se.

But it means enough to save it, because now it’s bugging me. The paper football? Not so much. I threw that away.

My general thought process led me to wonder how something can be so significant at one point in time and then slowly fade away to the point that you can’t even remember the meaning anymore.

I wish I knew the proper term to describe what a smaller thing being a microcosm of a larger thing was.

The more I thought about the fortune, the more I pieced together a picture of what it meant to me.

“The heart has its reasons, which the reason does not know.”

The statement is undoubtedly true. There’s a reason that you do everything you do, even if you don’t necessarily know the reason you did it. As jumbled as that seems, it makes a lot of sense to me.

I think of all the major life decisions that I made in 2011 and wonder where I would be if I made only one of them differently. I am completely copacetic with the life I am living now, it just makes me think about how things could be different.

The first and most obvious decision I made in the past year was figuring out where I wanted to go to school. It wasn’t a hard choice to attend Ohio University, but it was a huge decision nonetheless. No school in my home state really appealed to me at the time, although I realize looking back that I would have enjoyed them as well. My final two schools were Ohio and Indiana University, a very competitive journalism school with Big-10 sports and a ridiculous out-of-state price tag.

My thought process could have come down to money — albeit it was a factor — but it didn’t. It was made mostly based on where I felt most at home, which was Athens without question.

If I would have become a Hoosier, I wonder how it would have ended up. Would I be as happy as I am now, or dissatisfied with my first semester on my own? I will never know.

Without diving into painstaking detail, in the months after making my college choice, I navigated through a stretch of mentally taxing decisions that defined how my life would be at the time. In hindsight, I handled that period of my life very immaturely, but there was a beautiful silver lining, at least through my eyes, that I wouldn’t ever want to trade.

Moving forward through the summer, I decided to start this blog and activate my Twitter account. For one reason or another, I am so happy I put this page online. Before throwing this together, I had no informal stage to show my stuff. Something like this would never make the cut anywhere “real”.

My initial thought was that collecting all of my clips, pictures and other work would be attractive to potential employers and higher-up college people. It still serves that purpose, really, but my passion for the blog has been mostly fired by doing what I’m doing right now.

I was told by several people throughout my first quarter in Athens that the first thing I should do to improve my writing is write a lot and do so in my own voice, so to speak. It’s not like I post ridiculously often — I try for once per week — but this platform has allowed me to throw out a bit more feeling and personality. I’m starting to see a glimmer of it in my published stuff too, which is my reward.

Twitter is a whole different story, because it has changed the way I look at everything.

For anyone that is not a journalist, that is an incredibly odd statement.

Seriously, Twitter has completely altered the landscape of the profession I’m trying to make a name for myself in.

Twitter has taught me that everything is in real-time. I have learned of nearly every major news story of the last year on Twitter. Granted, that’s a personal choice, but one that has kept me informed, in my opinion.

Another personal choice that I think has been overshadowed in my life by no doing other than my own is my decision to join The Post in Athens.

I have learned so much over the past four months by working for The Post. When I left for school, I thought I was good at what I did. In a lot of cases now, I look back and laugh at some of the stuff I published. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but I know that I have come a long way since then. The smaller dynamics of my stories from over the summer, by and large, are not on the level I have come to accept as standard now. There are exceptions, just not many.

The beauty of it is that this summer, if everything goes well, I will look at what I’m writing now and scoff at it.  This whole thing is a learning experience that changes each day. If I’m not constantly learning new things, I’m doing something wrong.

In that same general realm, the most recent decision I can reflect upon is my choice to throw down some cash to better my work — or at least increase my work’s potential ceiling. Those who know me are fully aware that I am stingy bordering on downright cheap.

I left for school with $54 cash and returned with a single dollar bill*.

*I have to throw the disclaimer out there that I do have a debit card. However, the initial point still stands.

For the second time in my life, I made a major investment. The first time around I bought a car, which was a necessity. This time, I purchased a camera. A real one — not the super average point-and-shoot that I had become accustomed to carrying. It’s cool to make an investment in yourself because you have no excuses. If I don’t learn to be a good photographer/multimedia dude, it is totally my fault and no one else’s.

The way this has all unfolded, it has turned into a personal year in review, which was my original thought for this piece. It has been amazing for me to look over the transformations I have made in my life since this time last year.

I’ve written many times how different life is now from then. What really gets me, though, is trying to predict what the next year will be like based on how 2011 went.

What if my camera purchase spurs me to focus primarily on multimedia in the future? Maybe my choice to attend Ohio University opens a door I never would have knocked on otherwise. A little voice in my head might tell me to try something completely new. There were a lot of twists and turns in the last year that I would have never seen coming at this point in 2010.

And the beauty of it all is that life builds upon itself. Every decision I make, whether I know it at the time or not, impacts the next one. It’s crazy to think about, but it’s darn cool.

So, if there was a real reason for saving that fortune, I’m not sure. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that I found it and it sparked something in me.

This is my over-arching thank you, a sorry to whomever I have let down and a reminder that I am thankful for every minute I spend in this wonderful life. It’s a step forward, but one that cannot be made without remembering what it took to get to where I’m standing. It’s a constant remembrance of what really matters. Finally, it’s a toast to 2012, another year of figuring stuff out. It’s a beautiful life.

“The heart has its reasons, which the reason does not know.”

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Discussion

6 thoughts on “The heart has its reasons, which the reason does not know

  1. This was gorgeous, Jim.

    Posted by kristinsalaky | December 27, 2011, 10:21 pm
  2. Very nice read Jim. I like to read your posts, as it takes me back to that same spot in my life in college 30-years ago……wow 30-years…..just does not seem that long ago. It reflects on the things I could have, and should have done different at that time, the same point in time where you are at. I would assume 30- years from now, you will have some reflection on this process as well, just the road of life we all travel.

    Posted by Rob DeForge | December 28, 2011, 9:56 am
  3. I’m glad you saved it, and I’m glad you found it! Nice job.

    Remember what Coach Tracy always said … Hard work pays off!

    Posted by katy ross | December 28, 2011, 6:03 pm

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My name is Jim Ryan, and I'm a breaking news reporter for The Oregonian and OregonLive in Portland. I'm an Ohio University graduate from Gaylord, Michigan.

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