wow, is it That Time of The Year again? wasn’t it just summer? wasn’t it just new year’s eve? what the hell happened to 2012?
ahhh, dear reader. every year i like to reflect on the past 365 days (give or take) and kind of check the map to see where i’m going. personally i wish i was going to saint barths, like jill bumby prophesied, but that’s not going to happen unless santa brings me a winning lottery ticket. i’m satisfying myself with doing Productive Things around the casa this long weekend.
so 2012 was one of those freaky generally life changing years but in a really subtle way that doesn’t sink in for a while. i’m not sure its sunk in yet, to be frank. i should have probably kept a journal so that i could have a more reliable record other than vague, drugged out memory. [note to self: purchase handsome leather bound journal for 2013] speaking of which, i read bits of richard burton’s journal and i was comforted to read that even the fabulous are mundane and unconscious at times. oh thank god, i thought it was just me.
to be honest, i actually got a crap done off the list of Things To Do and Personal Improvement so i can’t (and don’t!) feel bad at all. but when i was thinking about the highs and lows of this year i was struck by the literalness of it. the high was climbing mount toubkal (and really the entire trip to spain / morocco).
cocktails at the alhambra hotel, granada, spain
arriving at la mamounia, marrakech, morocco
mounting mount toubkal
the low was falling down a flight of stairs and cracking my skull.
that was, of course, super helpful just in case i was one of these people who didn’t get the idea that every day could be your last. but i knew that from reading andrew marvell in college (forgive the editing):
But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
. . .
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.
believe me, the lesson was knocked firmly into my skull even more solidly than before.
at any rate it was a big year. did a lot. accomplished plenty. feel [mostly] good about stuff despite the fact that i once again did not learn italian. i did try to learn french but that was a miserable failure. the best i can do is sing along to petula clark or jacque dutronc with a heavy faux french accent.
so yesterday i was inexplicably filled with energy and literally ripped up the entire yard, chopped down a tree, replanted huge swaths of the garden, and then came inside and took everything off the bookshelves and cleaned each shelf. good god, i have a lot of books. it looks like the repository of western civilization in here, to steal from Naked Ralph The Sitcom Writer (oh i’ll miss him. not very much at all.). nearly every book has a receipt or piece of paper stuck in it, demarcating how far i’d read before i abandoned ship. this is useful because i can tell, for example, that i’ve been slowly ploughing through The Golden Bough for 21 years, judging from the 1991 newberry library book fair bookmark nestled at page 277.
to be fair, i did finish numerous books this year. but not nearly as many as i started but did not finish. worse than that, this year i bought ulysses, the infinite jest AND remembrance of things past undoubtedly as some kind of a sick challenge. you know, i didn’t want people whispering at my funeral that i was an english major who never polished off the number one classic on most lists. how embarrassing. and how is it that i STILL have never read tolstoy or been to paris? why am i reading crappy books instead of good ones? why am i wasting my time watching shitty movies instead of good ones? why eat pf changs when you can have momofuku’s bo ssam pork? why am i spending time with people doing shit i do not care about when i haven’t seen friends i dearly love in ages?
dovetailing with all this is the goal (resolution is a dirty word) to practice danshari: actively look at my life and minimize. get rid of things i don’t need, don’t want, and that don’t make my life better. concentrate on those things which are important.
断捨離 Danshari – “de-clutter.”
The three kanji in this compound mean “refuse – throw away – separate” – a three-step system for de-cluttering one’s life (both physical and mental):
1) refuse to bring unnecessary new possessions into your life;
2) throw away existing clutter in your living space; and
3) separate from a desire for material possessions.
the exact same thing applies to people and activities. i’m just too fucking busy, to be blunt. everyone is. i have too much stuff pulling me in all directions, too many demands for my time, too much on my plate. i lose things and lose track of people. everyone does – it’s the nature of modern life. i tend to overload myself under the carpe diem approach; others just collapse from the weight of life and spend every night on the couch drinking wine. the problem is the same – our lives are filled with clutter, white noise which doesn’t allow us to differentiate between the important and the insignificant. i’m sure the resolution is different for everyone, but for me it’s active reprioritization. making time for things and people i love, and not feeling bad in turning down things i don’t care for. and not feeling bad or beating myself up when i can’t get to something.
that means cleaning out the tshirt drawer. giving books i’ve read to friends. not buying more shoes (… cue quiet sobbing… ). making time for friends i love (and politely not spending time with people who are negative, energy vampires, or, frankly, just not worth the effort). saying NO to free things. buying good records, instead of wanting all records. making and eating delicious food. eliminating wasted time, negativity. bringing in beauty and good. shanti shanti shanti.
2013. the year to get the right shit done.