By Levi Clancy for לוי on

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At the threshold of winter and spring, join for a road trip to Rawanduz, go to a Navid Zardi concert, reflect on the memories of 2015, and take in the beauty of the Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Yezidi, Sufi, Kakai, Bahaii, Kurdish, Assyrian, Chaldean, Turcoman, Syriac, Arab, Armenian, Faili, and other secular and religious legacies that layer these lands. Thank you.

Join me in this video as I welcome the start of the year, on trips with friends who brought me to new places, new ideas, new experiences. (Plus a few clips from memory lane.)

Moving to Kurdistan in 2014 meant the realization of my first true love: the love I have for here, this place, for its fresh air, for its sweet waters, for its history. For the love I felt when I studied Mesopotamia, Assyria, Christianity, and Islam -- and when my love kept burning, it brought me from world museums to the heartland itself. For when I learned about hero Peshmerga taking up arms, men and women alongside each other, for principles and something greater than just a physical life, but a life as something to be lived fully, even to the end. As a child, my heroes had been Queen Elizabeth and Jean de Arc, to whom I'd been drawn like a magnet. And so it makes sense now why my heroes later in life became -- and remain today -- the Peshmerga who likewise wedded themselves to their nation, to their identity, to their sacrifice. Through them, I understood through their example and that of a particular Chaldean friend that death is not to be feared, but to be embraced and welcomed.

So much more became realized: for the opportunities opened to live my life exactly as I'd imagined. For when in LA, my most romantic dream was to sleep for the night along one of these ancient rivers which have borne civilizations for millennia -- and when that night came true. For when the call came that I could move here, work here, live here, but I'd have to do it within three days: and I convinced myself yes, so be it, because Levi... the notice may have come just three days in advance, but it's a date and a decision you've been waiting for over four years. And how every moment can feel so mundane, but so perfect.

This is for my first love: yes, Kurdistan, but more than Kurdistan it's for the ideas of this nation as they exist today and in the future, a future upon which so many cultures and peoples are able to thrive.