Friday, January 2, 2009
2009: Is it 2008 Redux?
It is of course the hopeful sort that would mockingly say, " Boy, you are quite the pessismist. You might want to get that checked out." But really, the flip of a calendar has never suddenly said, "This is the year!!!" (Ask the Chicago Cubs. They've been flipping calendars since Auld Lang Syne was only 120 years old. (Now it is 221 years old.)
So what is a depressed sort suppose to work on to become the cheery, everything is going to be better, lunatic fringe happy camper? What Resolutions made will make 2009 seem like a point in time where my life surely changed?
1. Get rid of people you don't need. I've been living with 2 people that for some reason have no financial sense. Beyond that, they have 23 cats, no phone, no cable, hot water is by stove and the cars need a fixin'. (3 broke vehicles sit outside my house.) They managed to pick up $2,300 in tips on their delivery route, yet haven't fixed any of these concerns. I made only $450 in tips(approximately) and had most of that go to a car that still ain't right. But my meager pay keeps the home equity paid and the lights on. So I am lost on what to do or say or pretend does not bother. SO--by April 1st, when gas is likely going to rise to around $3.00-$3.50 (no thanks to Israel, Russia, OPEC and George W. Bush), I am taking whatever bus I can to a warm place, Florida, Louisana or Arizona, to start over. It is more than their finances. Over the past 4 years, I have discovered what my role is to them and what I truly mean to them. Not much. Not much at all if you've read my prior blog posts.
2. Try to lose 'da attitude' with others. It's hard to overlook what you hate in yourself. That is what attitude is essentially. We project on to others what the hate about themselves. Often, I am not consciously looking to come across as overly sarcastic and witty. (At least by my failed reckoning.) But it is easy to see the worst in people for me. (See #1.) For the reason of being in a small town I never ever liked, around people that never ever accepted me from day one (and the chip that grew because of that) and the desire to escape this at all costs, I grew to be a person less likely to see the goodness in people. Because nothing, not friendship or an intimacy, ever evolved in my entire time in Northwest Indiana. There in lies my attitude problem: no real family or friends that are worth more than the gum on your shoe.
3. See opportunity and take it. Too often, I haven't made the best of the lifelines offered. (Not that they have been some fabulous place, or exotic journey missed, but I do regret the opportunities foregone to play it safe. Like working for GM (yeah, I know, they are heading for bankruptcy) about 11 years ago. What would have been? Would living in Michigan introduced me to the right woman or career contact that I would have alter the course of my life forever? (I decided against it to stay close to my mother - alas, a poor choice.)
Opportunities have to be seen and taken. Risk is the only way to reward. I have nothing to lose. I lost freedom, integrity, a career and rarely see a day that I don't regret for doing little to proceed. (Even blogging has become a chore. It's so 2000-2001-2002-2003-2004-2005.)
I put off editing and finishing correctly a baseball book because I feel it would be rejected. And that the time, money (needed to send it off in a proper format) and energy (that goes into a 700-900 page project) will not produce any significant result. (Like generate an income or establish a new identity.) So, I get lazy instead. And use the other reasons as an excuse to quit working.
Self-doubt will always kill opportunity. In my life, people have doubted me enough that I also just used their doubts as my doubts too. It's a cycle, like every year is.
4. Make a plan and stick to it. The hardest plan to follow is the one without wiggle room. But the plan should be focused on process, not results. Work out, but don't expect weight losss. Stop drinking soda, or eating cake, or other fattening stuff, but don't get worried about the pounds. Eat better, but don't look for the results to be evident in 2-3 months. It's a process.
Not focusing on results seems to contradict the prior stance on seeking opportunity. But if the journey is suppose to be fun, why are we so worried about the destination? Why are we into the constant struggle for self-improvement yet making it into so terribly like a job? Because we feel the need for penance? We owe ourselves a good life, but not at the expense of trying to please some sadistic need to flog ourselves for not being a size 2 or unable to run 5 miles or speak fluent Chinese (a task I have yet to take up) or going to Church every Sunday.
The plan should be fairly open, but with tenants to follow as close as possible. Working on one particular thing at a time is likely the best. Benjamin Franklin, probably the smartest man of his century (not without flaws though) had these grand ideas on self-improvement (from mysimplerlife.com):
1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. MODERATION. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
Humility was the one thing Franklin often said he lacked. (Who can blame a man that was so involved in numerous adventures, projects and essential outcomes in the 18th century as to be known the world over for things like a stove, or library lending or electricity.)
His results though came over a period of two years. Two years. A man as creative and talented as he took two years and still was not happy with everything. Imagine how long we need to take to become half as involved.
To avoid another 2008, 2007 or a past year of wasted opportunity, it would be best to actually accomplish one thing in this new year. Or at least focus on a process to fixing one part of my life.
Here's to you doing that for all the times you did not.
I'll tell you more when you tell me yours. ;)
Patience, grasshopper. You must use the force. Nothing MacGyver couldn't solve... My new bag: to make lives better through their health, their mindset. It's new, but we should always look for new. Take a gander there at Bringin' Gas & Dialin' 9: A Seven Score Addiction to the National Pastime. Writing is just about the only thing one can do to live on permanently - buildings will crumble, pictures can fade, memories blur before we know it, but words can remain visible, and understandable, long after we pass from this mortal coil. (That's why that Socrates guy still gets play!) So that's my story. Create your new story!