Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

It’s been years since I’ve been taken in by the New Year’s resolution racket. I’ve always thought putting together a wish list before the New Year was, as Milan Kundera would put it, utter kitsch. After all, if resolutions are supposed to be things you covet, things that you truly want to accomplish, or even things you want to change about your life why would you wait until the end of the year to enumerate them?

On the other hand, maybe taking stock as one decade ends and another begins makes a great deal of sense.

Unlike some of my prior lists, these resolutions are, by design, more selective, generic and ill-defined. They purposely lack a sense of measurement and accountability. And maybe that’s a good thing. Letting go of checklists and time tables allows these resolutions to breathe the open air and become, collectively, what they really represent: a long-term hope that I can become a better person.


PERSONAL

*Be More Open to Love: I think I might be getting beyond this. And this. And definitely this. I want to be in love. Now, if I could only figure out how…

*Be More Open to Others: I am recognizing that a person cannot understand the contours of love without first caring for others. And not just people you happen to know. Beyond family. Beyond friends. Beyond even yourself. Love without boundaries is my goal. I have a lot of work to do.

SPIRITUALITY

*Delve Deeper: I’ve been hinting at this all year. The more I embrace Simple Living, the more I recognize a vacuum somewhere deep inside of me. I’m starting to take the first tentative steps towards filling that vacuum. Let’s see where it leads me.

HEALTH

*New and Improved Diet: After a new-found focus on my diet, I’m gradually moving towards a more cohesive sense of how I want to eat. Still dealing with the basics: less red meat, more salads, more fruit, and more awareness of what’s in my food and where it comes from. It will be interesting how this one evolves this coming year.

PRACTICAL

*Be More Organized: It’s probably the dude in me. I usually don’t let it get out of hand but when I do my place becomes an obstacle course of clothing, empty water bottles, and pizza boxes. I find that I have more energy and a clearer mind when everything is in its place. I think it helps that I have almost nothing at this point. But still…

*Stop Rushing: Yup, I’m one of those people. If I have a meeting somewhere I will wait until I have just enough time to get moving. What ends up happening is that I suddenly drop what I am doing and rush over in a panic to make sure I get there on time. There is just no need for all that stress and frustration. I think the solution is to plan to get to meetings 5 minutes before I have to be there and to leave a lot earlier than I do now.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Christopher McCandliss was in pursuit of true simplicity. He never would have blogged about his pursuit, either.

You are still a self-absorbed yuppie compared to many, many people. Hence your continued anonymity.

The Middle Way said...

Ha! I love comment #1 coming from Anonymous. ANYWAY...

Jack, I love the categories you've identified; they hit the mark on the very things that I too would like to improve on, though I hadn't identified and segregated them so clearly. It's evident you've really taken the time to look carefully at the issues you're blogging about.

If I can take moment to plug one cause that I'm personally invested in and that relates to your "diet" resolution, you might take some time to read Jonathan Safran Foer's new book. I don't necessarily enjoy him as a writer (in my opinion, he's super overrated), but it's a good introduction on the facts on the ground and the ethical issues surrounding the production and consumption of meat. If at all interested in the topic I can recommend some more "intellectual" texts that might be more up your alley.

Good luck on all of these in the new year/decade.

WyldeSage said...

I think we all have good intentions when it comes to the end of a year. Even more so when it is the end of a decade. I feel the same as you do, changes need to be made, and for the better, because this is a journey for ourselves.

Ignore the haters, because they just cant handle people who want to make change.

Fr. Ken said...

I can definitely relate to "What ends up happening is that I suddenly drop what I am doing and rush over in a panic to make sure I get there on time."

For me, I've decided to spend some time with the Scripture passage about building a house on solid rock. Some areas of my life are built on sand, when I think about them. So, more thought on a few simple changes... simpler, better ways of managing things, is in order.

But it can be summed up in the passage, which I can keep above my desk to prod me when I have a few moments in the day.

And yes, perhaps leaving some more time to hang out before events would help to prevent the rushed panic --- definitely a good idea.

Have a Happy New Year!

Cassia Chen said...

I myself dislike New Year’s resolution. So I just reflected what I have done in 2009 "Its that time already" .
Regarding comment #1, we are all self-absorbed. Some of us are aware and others are unaware or deny of this fact. Why hide behind the wall of "anonymity".

Jack said...

@Anonymous,

I am still amazed that people can't see the irony in accusing someone of being self-absorbed via an anonymous comment on a public blog. Wow.

@The Middle Way,

Thanks for the suggestion. And definitely recommend all the books you feel do justice to the issue. I devouring tons at will.

@Wyldesage,

It's definitely a personal journey. What journey are you on? What resolutions are/would you make this year?

Debbi said...

At the risk of coming off as something of a crank and bursting a few balloons, here's what I blogged today about New Year's resolutions: http://mackthewriter.wordpress.com/2010/01/01/i-dont-believe-in-new-years-resolutions/

Jack said...

@Fr. Ken,

What passage was it? It would be good to know.

@Cassia,

Good point on Anonymity. And I would normally do some reflection as well, but it just felt right this year to do some resolutions.

@Debbie,

I like it! :)

LAS said...

Funny. Every time someone says "make a wish," I say one word. "Love."

Originally, I thought that word meant "send me a man who finds me irresistably wonderful and showers me with signs of affection." But obviously, that's just silly. Many men have made many efforts to fulfill a wish defined so stupidly, and I have turned them away one by one.

It is easy to love hypothetically, to love people as a concept. When a flesh and blood human tries to enter your life, though, that's another story altogether. They are invariably, in person, disappointing, because they are invariably human.

Over time, I've realized that my wish means something much broader. I think it means something closer to "allow me." Allow me to accept, to feel, to forgive, to share. Allow me to expand, and to accept.

I think, although I may be wrong, that this is what you are saying through many of your resolutions. Given your retelling of your journey so far, through this blog, it seems to me you're well on your way. Good luck and Happy New Year.

Sara Jean said...

Just wanted to say your blog concept inspired me to start one of my own. Heres to new beginnings. (I need a change too).

Suz said...

Jack -

"I want to be in love. Now, if I could only figure out how…"

I believe there is no figuring how to be in love. You know how crap just happens, well so does love - usually when you least expect it or want it. That feeling takes over our bodies and our being. If you find it, don't let it go. I've made that mistake and regretted it.

"I am recognizing that a person cannot understand the contours of love without first caring for others."

I believe that we can't understand the contours of love until we first care for ourselves and love ourselves.

Good luck in your journey.

Suz

SF Kid said...

What are you pursuing that is spiritual? I presume not anything "religious"... but I could be wrong. If you are not a church person, do consider learning a lot more about how to have a fulfilling life w/ more of a secular humanist philosophy (plenty to find to read about it if you search online). I find it much plenty rewarding to rely on science and rationality rather than the supernatural. However, you have to follow your own path.

Helene said...

For anyone who may be interested, check out what Conrad Goehausen, the blog owner of brokenyogi.blogspot.com says in his latest entry "Harmonizing with Evil." (Make no assumptions about what the title means before reading it.)

The author is a non-angry apostate from 30 years following the American guru Adi Da. His writing style is crystal clear.

This entry speaks to the issue you raised TMW, about not making decluttering an objective unto itself.

Jack said...

@LAS,

´´It is easy to love hypothetically, to love people as a concept. When a flesh and blood human tries to enter your life, though, that's another story altogether. They are invariably, in person, disappointing, because they are invariably human.´´

How appropriate given my last post. I think you are onto something. And not just in describing me. Sounds like you´ve done a lot of growing.

@Sara Jean,

I wish you luck on your own journey. I hope you find what you are looking for. And not just in MA.

@Suze,

´´believe that we can't understand the contours of love until we first care for ourselves and love ourselves.´´

Very much how I see things. I´ve done quite a bit on work on that and are at a point where I can think beyond ego and self-understanding. Involving others is the next, logical step.

Jill said...

I'm reading the Jonathan Safran Foer book Eating Animals right now, and I recommend Barbara Kingsolver's non-fiction read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle..." to fill in some of the gaps that are in Eating Animals. (I find Foer's other books to be delightful, with a beautiful written word and that give access to imagery; this book is more analytical and dry, but definitely skewed by Foer's values, which he discloses repeatedly.)

Eating and suffering are two actions all humans share; human suffering is covered by the spiritual/religious/philosophical discussions. Yet, eating is often ignored or at least taken for granted in our modern world. I applaud your efforts to learn more about where your food comes from. I have hope that our eating culture is on the brink of a revolution, to which the food industry will be forced to respond. Until then, folks who are paying attention need to use our dollars and voices to create viable options for eating socially responsibly.

Cheers!

Jack said...

@SF Kid,

"What are you pursuing that is spiritual? I presume not anything "religious"..."

I don't see it as religious. NOt really. I'm still formulating how I feel about it, but I guess I will discuss it when it makes sense to.

@Helene,

Just checked it out. Interesting. A bit out of my league at the moment.

@Jill,

That's a very good point. For now know this: if I, the biggest meat eater and "who cares about my diet" kind of guy in the world is focusing on this things are definitely changing.

The Middle Way said...

Now that I've actually finished JSF's book, I'll give it a firmer recommendation. I think it's very effective.

Peter's Singer's "Animal Liberation" is pretty much THE book. Singer is somewhat of a polarizing philosopher, but at the least he makes you think. I myself am a fan.

That's probably about as deep as you need to go. After that, you start conceptualizing about the concept of rights and getting into navel-gazing distinctions between animal rights and animal welfare.

Jack said...

@The Middle Way,

Sweet. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

i'm sure someone else has already pointed this out, and you probably know it yourself .. but ..

you know you're not going to meet the love of your life at a bar, right?

stop worrying about finding someone else to love or to love you and just figure out how to live a meaningful life. would you really want a woman who would love you completely the way you are now? make yourself worthy of the love you want.

you are still thinking so much about yourself .. i think enlightenment and happiness comes when you start putting your energy outward into the world, thinking about others, doing meaningful work, working to make a difference ..