Sunday, January 01, 2012

Resolutions and Revolutions

The Internet is alive today ("...the hills are alive...") with New Year's Resolutions. For that matter, the Net has been alive with them for awhile. Heck, I had Facebook friends making lists the day after Christmas, if not the day before. So in this, as in so many other things, I appear to be behind the curve.

Some of us had better things to do....like several hundred Christmas cookies. :-)

For everyone who's been johnny-on-the-spot to set up their lists, there are at least as many people who are   firmly "agin' 'em." They give the usual (and rather cynical) reasons: people who make them either make them too high, and don't have a prayer of keeping them--or make them too low, to the point where one iota's worth of effort will accomplish them with no outward visible evidence that anything is changed. Truth be told, many of us believe that making "internal" resolutions is the best, anyway. Unless modifying the inner man will have clear indicators on the outer--something like "I will get angry less often," for example--no one is the wiser if you have set a monumental growth task for yourself inwardly and fail...or succeed, for that matter.

This can be a two-edged sword, however. Sure, there's no one to point fingers at your failure. But neither is there anyone to celebrate your success. This is no small matter, either. Since most of us are our own worst critics, this can actually work against you in the sense that a) you don't have anyone cheering you on and b) you don't have anyone to provide perspective when you feel like a complete utter failure and nimnul who shouldn't, after all, be allowed to go out in public alone.

So am I making the things, or not?
Of course I am. Because it's irresistible to do so, with a brand new calendar all set to go for twelve sparkling new months. Because I'm a goal setter. And because if I do this publicly, that way I get a cheering section who will be able to assuage me with chocolate when I do my nimnul thing.
(heh heh)

Now that we've clicked over to 2012, here are six tasks I will set before myself.

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I will lose 10 pounds.
I should lose more, but it's impossible to lose more until you've lost the first 10--just like it's impossible to make the second million if you haven't made the first yet. The doctor tells me 30 would be perfect; I would love to see 50 come off, but that may be a pipe dream. Considering that I'm almost 15 pounds lighter now than I was when I arrived in Huntington, however, I suspect 10 is doable.

I will write the thank-you notes and send the birthday cards.
I always resolve this one, and I always fail. Maybe if I put it down where I'll see it fairly often, it'll remind me that I mean to do this. And, in fact, I DO mean to do it. All the time. For my friends and relatives: if you've ever wondered if I remember your birthdays, anniversaries, and the like, trust me...I do. I think of them. Sometimes I even buy the cards. (I still have a beautiful "new baby" card for a niece that I forgot to send...and she's something like three years old already. ) I just don't send the danged notes. Somewhere in the raising-kids years I got too busy to turn around, and they fell by the wayside. This year, I'll try to get them back.

I will stay away, as much as possible, from Catholic media.
I'm not saying there's nothing worth exploring in Catholic media, especially blogs. On the contrary; there's a LOT to read out there. Too much, in fact. But my reason isn't time; it's peace of mind.

Some Catholic blogs and websites are focused on how the world's picking on us. Or, they focus on what "bad Catholics" are doing the world over, how they're disgracing the Faith, etc., etc., etc. They don't tell us much to DO about it, but boy, are they good at wringing their hands and/or spreading the gossip, under the guise of being "Catholic news." I read those things and get feeling discouraged, inadequate, and angry...which I sense is not the way God wants me spending my time or energy.

The converse is, unfortunately, also true. There are a ton of "good Catholics" out there writing blogs and articles and books, too. These people raise their kids memorizing the Catechism and the Bible, they have family rosaries every night, and no one would dare watch TV during dinner (if they watch TV at all, since it's so evil). Some of these people have their families working soup kitchens on Christmas morning, give up their birthday presents to buy a cow for some Third World country,  and wear long skirts and mantillas to Mass (in Latin, because that's the only real way to do it). When I read these things, however, there's only one message I get: because I haven't given up TV (in fact, I kinda like it); wouldn't want to spend my OWN Christmas morning in a soup kitchen, let alone make my family do it; and love having my birthday be special for me....I'm clearly not Catholic enough. Putting aside for a moment the fact that many of these blogs disagree with each other as to what's "truly Catholic" and get in hissy fits in comboxes fighting over it (yeah, that brings glory to God, all right), reading these things--while sometimes a blessing--usually makes me feel discouraged, inadequate, and angry.

Seeing a pattern here? :-)

I will make two new friends.

This will be a challenging one for me, because next to the word "introvert" in the dictionary is my picture. When you add to that the fact that I truly enjoy solitude and can be very productive within it, you might want to ask, "Why do you need to do this at all?" Well...surprisingly enough, I've found that even introverts need some human contact now and again. I live with a college student who frequently puts in 10+-hour days, so I see very little of her...and a husband who sometimes works six evenings a week, eliminating a great many events or ways we could socialize right off the bat. I have a couple of friends here in Indiana, but most of the people I call friends are still a state away, and quite frankly--I'm feeling lonely more often than I ever thought I would. It will take a little work to do this, and a little creativity, but I've never been afraid of either of those things...so I'm gonna give it an honest try and see if I can't expand my circles considerably.

I will stop being so damn realistic about my writing, and get back to enjoying it again.
I could write volumes about this--and have, in fact, on this blog. But there was a time when writing was a whole lot more fun than it is now, when I believed I truly could tell great stories that people would want to read. I had a finely developed storytelling sense, and it was getting better. I honestly believed I could make a living writing novels. Yes, I did believe that, despite all the derisive laughter that follows that statement.

I want to believe it again. Because when I believe something, I make it happen. But every moment I'm forced to devote to being "realistic" about my writing is a moment that takes away from my skill development, my talent, my storytelling chops, and my positive enjoyment of the process itself. And that's gotta stop.

I sense that God would have me take bold steps in this arena of life. I keep feeling the nagging sense that He didn't give me a valuable skill like storytelling for me to waste it writing articles for people who don't pay me, cleaning up other people's books so they're coherent, or putting together papers of corporate glorification. Do I dare reach for the glory that's out there if I put it all on the line? I intend to.

and finally...
I will calm down the "contrarian" within.
I've always been blessed, or cursed, with a somewhat contrarian nature--not because I just want to stir things up, but because I honestly don't see lots of things the way a lot of people appear to see them. In my particular case, that temperament has been coupled with the feeling of obligation to do what I can to right all the world's wrongs--and the conviction that if I don't do it, it won't get done at all. (I may have taken "If it's to be, it's up to me" a little too personally!) So when something bothers me, worries me, sticks in my craw, or seems to be just plain wrong, I feel compelled to right it. Usually that "righting" takes the form of writing something about it, taking a stand...and then dealing with fallout that can range from irritation on someone's part all the way to abuse from strangers. (And yes, I've had both.)

Every time this happens, I don't regret taking the stand...but I do regret the time, energy, talent, and emotional toll that such windmill-tilting takes from me. I don't want to become a slug, drifting along indifferent to wrongs that need righting or people who may need guidance--but neither do I want to scrape myself so raw anymore, either. The cynical point of view says, "No one cares what you think." That may not be entirely true, because they're sure quick to tell me when they think I'm wrong. :-) But I'm going to try to take the "realistic" aspect of life and apply it to THIS function, and free up my creativity to do what it was intended to do (see previous resolution). In other words, I want to stop myself before I spend half a day crafting a Letter to the Editor about some issue instead of using that half-day to write 2,000 more words on a novel.

Because truth to tell...other people can do the speaking-up and writing the editorials. But no one can write my novel except me. And so I have to wonder why I've squandered a gift for writing on things that just might be things other people can do...instead of my doing them and courting yet more abuse. No doubt it's from the notion that storytelling isn't as "important" as social action, pointing out abuses, or other such "emperor has no clothes" type things I've felt compelled to do for so long.

Too bad that notion is probably bunk, and probably always has been. I've appreciated being praised for being brave, for being a group's "conscience" at times--but I have also noticed that the people who praised me have also left me twisting in the wind, alone, without stepping forward publicly to support what I did. In the end, I was left with the crumbs from people who said they agreed with me "but wouldn't dare say so." In the end, they let me suffer alone.

It's only taken me 59 years to decide that maybe enough's enough of that. I think it's time for someone else to step in and be a conscience for the next 59 years...while I do better things with my writing and my energy. I suspect in the long run I'll do the world just as much good.
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So, there it is. There are a lot of things I could have put in this list, and didn't. And I didn't put some of these out here without wondering if I truly needed to be that frank and vulnerable in a resolution list.
Which means that, on the whole, what I've got is probably just about right. :-)

Six items from anyone else out there? Go ahead. Be brave. I promise, I won't bite.

Thoughts?
Janny

1 comment:

Janka H. said...

hello, janny :)

six items ? no, girl. too much :) but i also need to lose some weight, i wanna be a better cook and more calm person (emotionally driven person here :)).

and hey, you quite succeeded with more friends here. you have been very nice to me, don´t you remember ? complete stranger from unknown country, asking for your book ! me myself would think twice at that situation.

and yes, i´m SO buying your book :) sunday, sunday :)

thoughts about standing alone in the rain (not literally :)) after fighting for (your) truth also resonates with me. but don´t get discouraged. world needs opinions. and pain is sometimes the price we pay. but you can´t know how many people you have helped. and God sees it, if anybody else not. not very comforting thing, i know, just "God sees it", but hey, you never know - maybe you have planted some good sees there in somebody. and it will grow without you knowing...into a forest.

God bless you, dear Janny.