Monday, January 1, 2024

What I learned in 2023

This disappeared on me. And by that I mean that I was about 700 words in yesterday, had walked away to gather my thoughts for a few hours and when I came back my computer wouldn't respond, so without thinking about it I rebooted. Lost everything. In a sense kind of like last year. Not that I lost everything everything, I still have my computer and the things I did save, just not the new thoughts that had sprung forth, the progress I'd made. Because last year I had some losses and setbacks, just like everyone else, but I'd saved a lot, and as it turns out, sometimes I'm better on the second draft.

So I'm back. It's been a minute. A very long minute. This blog started, like so many other things in life, as one idea that slowly transformed into another. Short stories, screeds and philosophy, weird ideas, political takes, poetry and art appreciation. This had been a digital space to just see what fell out of my head, to make comments about life into that vast unknown ether - partially because I didn't think the people around me would appreciate them and I tend to not want bother people unless I have to. There were the occasional screams into the digital darkness, but maybe as I've gotten older I've changed. Well, I know I changed, I lost some weight, I read some stuff from some new sources, I've pared back the dumb stuff. Still indulging too much from time to time, but also realizing my knees ain't what they used to be (I pulled a hamstring taking off my pants the other day), and that two AM is not a good time to decide to start new projects. 

But around mid-year things got hectic. And a lot of things had to happen around the same time and since this was already something I was doing out of habit, this went to the back-burner. Then the closet, I guess, although the metaphor doesn't travel. I just lost this for minute. But then a lot of the things I really did intend to this year, that I actually did mean to focus on didn't get done either (duh.) Some because of my own mental machinations. Others because of things out of my control. Some things changed and because mortgage rates went up some stayed the same. But also fulfilled a few personal promises, and finally did some things I told myself I would do when I was fifteen, but kept making excuses to myself. Things came at me fast, more than once. But that's everyone and I like to believe I rolled with the punches and came up in not too terrible a position. When I think about it now, I've actually been pretty damned lucky in a sense. But that realization makes me wonder just how much longer this luck will hold.  

I still have a million scenes to the thousand stories dancing through my head, books I want to write but...I haven't really put pen to page since I stopped updating this. I need to get out of the house more, as the pandemic (and grey hair) turned me into a serious homebody, because I'm I need to grow my circle and my contacts. (Alternatively, all my stuff is in my house, so why leave?) I've lost weight but I need to lose more, and tone up a bit. Yeah baby, sexy dad body, although I have no kids, you know what I mean. But my new schedule is making the application of basic principles of self care in that regard harder than I expected. Because yes, exercise and health is self care. Important stuff. 

To start this new year, much like I've suggested every year I've offered suggestions - go do something. Seriously. Something you hadn't done. Something you've been meaning to do. I recently watched a video of a man just a little bit older than me realize that the window of life's opportunities was closing, and the list of regular things that he'd come to enjoy was soon going to lose a few items, and that things he really wanted to do might not possible soon. It was one of those odd throwaway moments that make you think when you weren't expecting it. I have maintained for years that I have more time, next week, next month, next season, next year. That may not be completely true. And some events this year put that into very real terms.

This past year I traveled. Not just the usual back to my hometown to see my parents, although that did become a major part of my year, or to the beach or something like that. No, this year I really traveled. Like clearing customs and stepping onto another continent traveled. In my youth I'd dreamed of getting away from that small town I grew up in and seeing the world. But my history had been when I had the time I didn't have the resources. And by the time I had gathered the resources I'd reached a opinion that work took precedence. Add in that I had never wanted to travel alone, I had wanted that mythical HER to be by my side. Just like it's not the food it's who you're eating it with, I'd developed the opinion that traveling was about the memories, and wanted my memories to make my heart sing. But that someone special part hasn't worked out for me like I'd hoped. She has her own plans. So last year when the opportunity came to go somewhere, I leapt at it anyway. And this year I'm going to do it again.

This year I take on new career challenges. I had been slowly building a career that I'd fallen into. I tend to get into what I'm doing, slowly building up momentum until the work becomes something else. That track, in keeping with the metaphor, got derailed this year. So again, I'm starting over. But starting over wiser, maybe more seasoned to how life is supposed to work. We'll see. But then again I realize that I'd taken that type of work because it was a quiet thing after a period of professional chaos. A quiet where I could focus and in that process I had let myself slip on so many levels. But I've always been professionally flexible and adapt quickly, and expect this new thing will push me to be better. And I need to be as good as I can be. Before I can't.  

Time is running out. This past year made it clear that my time and my luck won't last forever. And that I need to start chasing those dreams and doing those things I've been hesitating about, that I've been waiting for the right window of opportunity. I can't imagine how many variations on my future I've let die on the vine waiting for things I didn't have the audacity to begin. So as someone who has spent far too long getting ready for things to come, I need you to go out tonight and eat at that place you've thought about. Tell your loved ones they matter. Plan that trip. Start your journal, your side business, your religious awakening, your charity, your DYI project, your spaceship, your home brew, your exercise routine, to learn to cook, to learn a new language, to dance, to start walking, to mentor, go dancing, go camping, go the chili cook-off, join an improv group or try out for the national curling team. Just go do something, time is not your friend.

So that's what I learned in 2023. Go forth and do.