Resolutions, revolutions and reevaluations

It is another year, nearly my 60th on this planet. The world turned, in spite of any resolutions I may have had. And how my world was turned. This past year had some pretty impressive highs and lows, even without my bipolar tendencies. 

But the whole world has been manic, hasn’t it?

I guess what I am saying, is that in the chaos of the world, why should I make a resolution? Who needs the pressure? Life is already a minefield. In my experience, the things that need resolutions, happen when it is time. 

The world revolves and we are along for the ride. Sure, this is a new set of days, after a spin around the sun, and yet, in the grand scheme, it is just another day. I suppose we assign the value that we need to it. Maybe it’s depressing for me to say that.

I can tell you after the fifty-one I remember, you don’t need to give yourself the pressure of a resolution. The celebration can be as raucous or serene as you want. Don’t feel pressure on that either. If you need to hide in your closet and cry, maybe take a long weekend to yourself. If you need to dance the night away and celebrate the end of the year with cheer, that’s just as valid.

For most of us, it is somewhere in between. What does that really mean? I feel like we set the pressure on ourselves. Only you can decide what is important. No one can decide that for you.

Something I started even before my TIA last February, is this, ‘one little thing.’ What is one little thing I can do today? And I don’t even have to do that much. I know, I am talking about mindfulness, basically. I always found that stuff like CBT made me feel pressured. Like I should have some incredible life change or deep insight into my soul. 

It doesn’t work that way, and like habits are changed when you are ready, it will come to you when it is time. Am I describing a slog? Is life really just one little thing at a time to be done or overcome?

Honestly? Sometimes it is. The days make up the year, and you can’t stop the trip around the sun, but you can (try) to make each day a little better. It might be a little win or just another day. 

Either way, my hope for you in this next revolution, is to you have more little wins than just one more days.

Maybe it was a good year, after all

As every publication, social media poster, and blogger has been rushing out ’best of 2022’ lists, I have been reflecting myself. People have been discussing their critical darlings all year and now it come to a head.

I admit I am an old fogey, often stuck half a century ago, and much of modern popular culture I don’t know, or maybe even understand,

An aside, but it seems weird that the media that is used to create the media about the ‘best of’ media was laid down by early adopters like myself. Now, what was a simple need to have self-updating forms, became a way to rate co-eds at Harvard and burst forth as the like button with the idea of mining people’s data for a dollar.

All these things came to head this year. Because of course, it did, it was an election year. Twitter (which has fewer monthly users than Pinterest and is not the real world but is assigned way too much import) was bought by a self-absorbed billionaire and the expected chaos ensued

All social media (still not the real world) became a hotbed of anger because the algorithms have learned that division drives business. Hate clicks are harvested, analyzed, and regurgitated. The world is upside down in the cyber world

With that in mind, it is easy to forget that the year wasn’t that bad. I mean, publications, social media posters, and bloggers are rushing out the ‘best of 2022’ lists. They found something good to reflect on, maybe we all can.

Maybe it was as simple as a show that moved you or made you think. A piece of music that does the same. A painting or any other graphic art. Whether a movie or symphony, these things can brighten and even enlighten.

Into the storm – I-84 Westbound

Maybe it is greater than that. One’s life can change, good or bad, and maybe just getting on the other side of all of it with the change of the year is the best you can do.

A lifelong fantasy realized – Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

Maybe not every day of the past three-sixty-five was bad. There were days filled with joy, or at least a laugh or even a smile.

Pacific Ocean Sunset – At Sea in the Pacific

Maybe it was a sunrise or sunset,

Autumn Brook – Murray Park

a quiet brook,

Waves on the sea – Pacific Ocean

or a roaring sea.

Summer Sunflowers – Evanston

Maybe it was just a peaceful moment to reflect and realize, hey, maybe you will be okay.

Winter Sunrise – Evanston

Maybe it was a good year after all.

Christmas gifts that never came

I am poring over that great American tradition, still strong in 1972, the Sears Christmas Wish Book. I am looking at toys that will never come. Toys I will never have. 

It is a distinct memory. I am sitting in the bathroom of the old windy, drafty farmhouse in a forgotten valley in a lost part of the world. It is the only room with heat, save for the big pot-belly stove that dominated the living room.

Christmas had come for all my friends and when I got back from the school break, they would brag and share things from Santa, who never came to my house. 

I knew Santa only existed if you believed. My family didn’t, but I hoped if I believed hard enough, Santa would come anyway. He never did. It wasn’t the first time I was disappointed at the gap between my family’s religious beliefs and holidays (there is another story of an eight-year-old, tears, and Valentine’s Day).

I know, for some, not celebrating Christmas, or any other holiday is a point of pious pride. I had no Christmas until I was nineteen years old. It was many years of Santa skipping my house, not that I would have been on his nice list.

That child, in that bathroom, had little philosophical thought about the birth of Christ. That little kid didn’t know if he was good or bad, because nobody around him believed. 

Granted, I was thinking in purely material ways. Belief meant toys in my mind. When no toys came, it was easy not to believe. 

I don’t know if my brothers and sisters felt the same. It was a secret I kept to myself, lest my family discover that I wasn’t as dutiful as them.

I knew nothing of the Christmas spirit or Holiday cheer. I didn’t know of goodwill for my neighbor. I wasn’t taught to believe. I tried anyway.

Today, I have no wish book. I need none. What I have are family and friends. I try to keep goodwill with my fellow man all year, of course. 

We all share that spirit of the holidays, I hope. That was what I really wanted, to share that feeling of peace. Don’t get me wrong, presents are good, but peace on earth, goodwill to all, is a wonderful thing.

I guess, to all the nine-year-olds waiting for Santa, he comes eventually. Because the holidays are about giving and love you make, and all that. And maybe, something nice under the tree for you.

Saying something with nothing 

I have been trying to start a blog post for a couple of weeks (thanks to all of you visitors who came in spite of a dearth of new content). I am reminded of Lord Byron’s reply to some correspondence:

You enquire after my health – it is as usual – but I am subject to great depression of spirits – occasionally; without sufficient cause. – Preserve yours.

Lord Byron, October 12, 1821

And that often sums things up. I have a double whammy of mental illness and debilitating illness. So what can I say? I feel shitty sometimes, others not. Prior to the big wall, I hit a few years ago, I was riding life quite differently.

It was a fast ride, played good and bad. A race up and down. I casually sacrificed my life for the consumption of western culture. And my appetite was voracious (still kind of is, but I am exhausted more easily).

When I was young I had a different maxim. Like all of us oldsters, I guess, we look back at those days. Fast, stupid, ignoring any future cost, physical and mental. As Hunter S. Thompson said;

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Hunter S. Thompson

I have been in a skid for a while. I can say, wow, what a ride, but my ride isn’t over. In spite of my agonies, my body isn’t totally worn out. Hunter was wrong.

Life is balance. There is a price to be extracted for every rash action. Those accidental effects will come back. A crick in your back, a splinter in your mind. 

And you will have to learn to live with your ghosts. And the aches they left.

I haven’t been doing that well. In fact, lately, I am angry with myself for not heeding a few stop signs. I know, spilled milk and all that. Still, when I am doubled over in pain or in a weird place between here and there, it’s hard not to have regrets.

So there you are, I am not riding high, but not as low as I could. My body is pretty much what it was last week and what it will be next week. For choices big and small, my fitness is poor. Don’t let yours be the same.

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