As I close the pages on 2023, I wonder if I should ask all my friends to put a minute or two into trying to figure their win/loss record. How many wins did they have in the 365 days they played?

How many did I have too?

Well, I can’t say my record was 365-0. I wish I could. But I lost at least five days in late October to a second bout with the coronavirus, which knocked the zero off my ledger. I had a handful of others, trifling misadventures I faced in my gallivanting across the globe.

From my repeated criticisms of Delta Air Lines, I guess I can subtract another, oh, 15 days from that total. In Louisville in late January, I got into an accident when a driver, late to work, rammed into the backend of an Uber that I was in. I took an ambulance to the emergency room. A physician diagnosed me with a minor concussion.

My head wobbled for a while afterward, which I knew would happen. Yet it wasn’t an injury that kept me down long. It did, however, stop me from watching the best pool players in the world at a tournament there.

I can throw in one loss here, another loss there, and I guess I’d put my win/loss record for ’23 at 330-35. I can live with that.

For in those victories were some unforgettable experiences. I took a weeklong trip to Croatia with New York Times sportswriter Jonathan Abrams. He picked Croatia, which didn’t even register on my places-to-go list. I didn’t know any better, of course. Jonathan and I had a fabulous time, particularly our exploration of scenic Dubrovnik.

I took three cruises. The last of the three came after Thanksgiving when my two sisters and a brother-in-law sailed for eight days through the Caribbean. I never had so many restful nights as I had on the high seas.

In Tokyo last summer, I ate at a soul food joint, saw a baseball game and visited the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. In Frankfurt, Germany, I rode a train to see the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Berlin Wall. I attended two symphonies in Vienna, and I had some delicious meals from Kansas City barbecue to pasta and Vietnamese noodle dishes in Auckland.

I can’t talk about wins in New Zealand without mentioning the trips I took to wine country there and to Hobbiton, the verdant stage for the films made from J.R.R. Tolkien’s books about hobbits.


What are they?

I didn’t even care. I just know it was as stressless a journey as I’d ever made, aside from the headache of dealing with Delta. I won’t mention the airline again.

How do I not count as a win the week I spent in Charleston, South Carolina, with my cousin David and his wife Ruth? They treated me, my youngest sister and my brother-in-law like royalty.

I went to Charleston after Louisville, and any trip in late January to the Deep South is better than spending time in Cleveland and its wintry chill.

Wins in 2023?

They kept piling up.

I built friendship on the three cruises, at the NABJ convention in Las Vegas and in New Zealand. While there, I met a brother from Denver who had the same passion for travel in retirement as I did. Greg longed to explore as much of the world as he could, which was why he’s remained in Auckland to bring in the New Year.

Yet beyond my globetrotting, I think I scored my biggest wins with things even less tangible. On January 1, 2023, I began to take a deeper look inside myself. I’d like to think I found humility, spirituality, wisdom and forgiveness. I learned to nurture more of those people whom I’ve grown closer to.

Along the way, I reminded myself I’m not alone, though I never really thought otherwise.

For 2024, I don’t have any resolutions. I didn’t have any for ’23. I’ll continue to build on what I did last year. I’ll pray for peace; I’ll explore the world; and I’ll live my best life.

I’d call the latter a big win regardless of how I tally up the days.