End-of-the-year resolutions that will soon die on the altar of hope.
What is it about the end of a year that we are compelled to reflect on the last 365 days and wonder, fascinated that we made it through the fire of days and weeks, and months of work, play, sex, love, hate, hunger, gluttony, selfishness, selflessness, the beauty and the ugliness of being here except to be able to reflect and write these words and live this life learning and growing knowing that one day we will be unable to continue anymore?
2022. I am often obsessed with the reality that I’ve made it this far, not just this one year but all the last seventy-four years of it all, even after forty-five of those years stoned, drunk, feeling nothing knowing only eyes wide shut, refusing to acknowledge that there is a better option. Eyes wide open. All the way open so that all the light, the sun, the moon, the planets, the stars, nature’s sweet calling, and the laughter of babies, children, and adults who sing in the morning and during their daily living because that’s what we should all do. Hey, it’s better than crying all the time and hiding in a closet with no light allowed to enter and no breeze, and fear is one’s only companion.
Been there. Done that.
Goals are good. Hell, I have had plenty of them. Then, I realized that I was living for the goals and not for the moment’s journey through them. After a moment, I knew that I couldn’t tell you how much the wind breathed or the sounds of the birds and bees that sent me messages or the color of the trees and that flower that greeted me every time I stepped out of my house and the sights I passed on the freeway or city streets because all I did was look straight ahead stiff-backed eyes on the road listening only to the incessant noise of the all-news station or talk radio blabber of call in yahoos complaining about their miserable lives so then soon my life was also sad. I forgot where the hell I was or going or cared.
Kill me now, I often yelled in the emptiness of the car.
2022. We’re coming up on three years of the pandemic (you do remember the pandemic). I’m trying to fly above it, being careful not to be dropped head-first into the eye of the hurricane (knock on wood that it hasn’t happened yet), trying to defy the odds while flying to Texas (three times) and San Francisco (two times) and slipping into enclosed spaces at school with a mask on. Still, no one seems to worry on the planes and in school (do they know something I don’t?). I have been scared shitless for nearly three years, and this is no way to live or die, but amid the fear, something beautiful has happened.
Resolution number one: burst the fear like a yellow-topped pimple (yuck). Yeah, it’s ugly and gross, but so is the fear that comes with constantly looking over your shoulder and to the side of you and in front of you and all around you because you’re so worried about everybody else and everything else that you’ve lost faith in your ability to make the right choices that are right for you.
Sticks and stones will always hurt me, but fear can kill my soul. If I stop fearing, the fog can be lifted from my mind.
Resolution number two: Be happy. Only you can make yourself comfortable. Don’t look outside of yourself for salvation. Salvation will only come from you. Don’t look outside of yourself for liberation. Liberation will only come from you.
Trust me. There is no magic pill.
Resolution number three: Make all the goals and plans you want. Just don’t forget that you must take a path and a journey to get there. It begins at this moment, followed by another moment, followed by many more moments composed of a moment of silence and thought and meditation (something similar to stopping, looking, and listening for the eighteen-wheeler coming at you while you only think about getting to the other side of the street without looking both ways.)
For most of my adult life, I believed there was no time to stop for anyone or anything. I was in a perpetual hurry fueled by doubt, inexperience, and often drugs and alcohol; I just had to keep going, not knowing what direction I was headed in (I don’t know where I’m headed, but I’m going there anyway) as long as I got there only to find out later that it wasn’t the place I wanted to go to. Or needed to be there. There was no map or directions, only a meandering, sometimes blind journey. What a waste of time, I would shout.
But was it?
Here’s the last random thought. All those detours, dead ends, and misdirection somehow became embedded in my brain and eventually became guard rails, signal lights, bells, and whistles at those intersections in life we always find ourselves. I could count on them to help me decide at that moment so that I wouldn’t again drive off the road or a cliff or something crazy.
I got goals and plans for 2023. Big goals. Big plans. Big dreams. In the meantime, I’ll relax, lay in this moment, and be.
And that's a good thing.