Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Resolve for the Dirty Rug We Call Life

If only I could spray this
on myself and fix everything.

            Once again, I have found myself inspired by my editor/friend Joslyn and her literary musings. I really enjoyed reading so much about her self-eval of her past year’s New Year’s resolutions to not do several things that I have decided that I should set some resolutions for myself. This is new. I don’t set New Year’s resolutions. I don’t see a point. Why decide to do something in January only to feel bad about not doing it by February? That’s usually how it works, isn’t it?
            I think I’d like to take Joslyn’s approach to a different level. Before I unveil my plan, I must first explain that I am a chronic overachiever. It’s an illness I’ve been working very hard to treat, but it’s not simple. There are no pills to take to kill it. And there are all sorts of emotional guilt tied up with simply achieving or worse, underachieving. Anything is possible, however. I made great headway on this problem by spending the majority of the last year gracefully unemployed. *When I say “unemployed,” I must qualify that as “in the eyes of the general public.” I am technically always working – being a classical musician and having to practice my instrument every day – I just don’t always earn an income. So really, I spent the last year without a day job. YES! I earned so little money that I may actually be able to reclaim some of the tax dollars that I paid in previous years through a hefty tax refund, larger than the amount I paid in (courtesy of Earned Income Credit). That was the brilliant plan anyway, a way to steal back some of my Social Security and Medicare $ if you will.
            That was a super tangent. The crux of my New Year’s Resolution for 2013 is this => Achieve as little as possible. If you misunderstand me, you will think I plan to become a lardass blob on the couch in a vegetative state. That is one way to achieve very little. That’s not really what I had in mind. At some point during the last year, I ran into an acquaintance and I was asked what I had been up to. My answer was “nothing.” That wasn’t really true. I had started a blog, completed the first draft of the novel I’m writing (95,000+ words – not a joke), gotten a lot better at my instrument, picked back up a daily workout habit, discovered the joys of yoga, read some books, been a good friend, etc. At first I thought, “Huh. Did I say “Nothing” because I don’t see value in what I’ve been doing?” No. I said “Nothing,” because I knew that acquaintance would not see value in what I had done. And, rather than listen to a condescending/patronizing “Oh isn’t that nice!” or witness the corresponding facial expression and find myself wanting to huck with fervor a cup of iced coffee into that person’s face, I used my speedy reasoning skills to avoid a messy situation.
            I would like to do more of that sort of thing (not the beverage tossing). I would like to fill my life with the kinds of things that many people see no value in. The American population is making it pretty clear that they see no value in classical music by the sheer fact that the orchestras are going out of business and very few people care. So damn it, I’m going to practice even more. I’ll probably practice etudes. And long tones (that would be me holding the same note for a very long time for those of you non musicians). And the kinds of things that no one wants to listen to. Most people look at me like I’m nuts when I tell them I’m writing a book. So, I already know that’s a winner.
            I’d like to spend more time hanging out with my dog. I’d like to spend some extra time sleeping as well. Meditating – I enjoy that. I’d love to spend more time ice-skating. I’d also like to perfect my own chocolate chip cookie recipe. And, of course, there will need to be plenty of time at the gym to combat the many baked goods I plan to eat. I want to be in Germany or Switzerland for more of the year. I’d like to be at the spa more regularly. I want to take a homeless person out for lunch.
            As far as work goes, I am more than through with equating work with life. Work=paycheck=means to get by. The funny thing about money is that I don’t really want it (at least it’s not anywhere near the top of my list). Yes, it makes life easier. I’d like to have enough to get by and some extra to have fun. Other than that, in my eyes money has little value. It’s not evil, but it’s just a means, very much like an airplane. It can take you places, but it shouldn’t be the goal. In a world where money runs the wheels and cogs and seems to be the crowning measurement of achievement, I’m just not interested in being an active part. I’d like to spend time being with, helping, and loving the people I care for. When I run into the types whose pockets are well-lined, yet couldn’t tell you the last time they picked up the phone to call their next of kin just because, and they ask me what I’ve been doing, I want to be able to answer “NOTHING! (That you would understand).” Here’s to a 2013 filled with otherworldly joys and priceless intangibles.


  1. I love this! Especially the part about how you said "nothing" when your friend asked you what you've been up to. I had a similar experience just yesterday. I ran into an ex I haven't seen in 3 years and he asked me what's new. I said "Nothing." I thought later about why I said that, when it is not true at all. I am actually constantly achieving things — just like you — that run the gamut from the professional to the personal. And like you, the reason I said "nothing" is not because I don't value my own achievements; it's because I knew he wouldn't really care. And quite frankly, it's none of his business. But I am perfectly proud of having spent three years doing a LOT of things that he would see zero value in. After all, that's why we broke up! Wait... I think you've now inspired ME to write a post. - Joslyn

    1. YES! Falling dominos of inspiration! To hell with the people who don't care. They don't know what they're missing.