Questions for Reflection

One year ends, another begins.  

According to Wikipedia a New Year’s resolution:  “is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere, but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life.”

While the intentions are sincere, more often than not, people find they are unable to sustain the quest to change and the resolution is dropped, reduced, or entirely forgotten.  As a result, it appears that people of my vintage no longer make promises to themselves. One T-shirt I recently saw captured this notion:  2021 – Eat, Sleep, Fail my New Year’s Resolution, Repeat! Another stated their goal simply and clearly:  First Rule of 2021 – Don’t Talk about 2020!  (Yeah, Good Luck!)

However, I like the idea of looking back over the year to consider what worked and what didn’t and then making a plan for moving forward.  Perhaps asking myself some questions might give me the foundation from which to be more successful in my commitment to change.

Question:  What do I want to get rid of?

I’m tired of feeling defeated, deflated, angry, and surprised when I expect life to be fair!  I’m tossing that out and replacing it with fairness as a preference but not an expectation.  If I can remember to chuckle or say, “Isn’t that interesting!” when something turns out unfairly, I might have a chance!

I’m concerned that my children will be forced to sort through all of my “stuff” when I’m gone.  I’m going through file drawers and basement shelves each week and am throwing out, recycling, and donating.  A secondary benefit of less clutter and more room is also appealing.

Question:  What do I want to do more of, less of, and keep the same?

I want to spend more time laughing.  I need to spend more time with people who are uplifting, sincere, energizing, and enjoy a sense of humor!  Applications are now being taken!  Grumps need not apply.

I want to feel more of the creative energy and sense of purpose I used to get from my work.  Recently, I had a conversation with my granddaughter about creating a video collection of daily, interesting experiences.  She is interested in working remotely with me on the artistic and editing end of it.  What a wonderful opportunity to kick off the New Year in a joint venture with Kylie!  Delicious!

I want to spend less time agreeing to situations that drain my energy.  Warning!  If I say no to you for something you may request, I’m really saying YES to me.  

I want to maintain the time I now spend communicating with my children.  (Due to COVID, we talk and FaceTime more than ever before!)  Amen!

Do you have an “end of year” question to suggest?

Nevermind!

Before addressing Henry’s questions let me preface this by saying that I always approached New Year’s Resolutions in the same way I gave up stuff for Lent.  As a kid I thought I was so clever giving up homework, peanut butter (which always made me gag), Brussel Sprouts, and the like as sacrifices for Lent.   If you are going to give something up, give up something you were supposed to do but hated doing!  Makes sense, right?  My resolutions were similar.  Mostly they were things I promised I wouldn’t do anymore in the new year.  And I would pick things I hated to do.  In the new year I am not going to make my bed cause I can use the time much more pleasantly, or I’m not going to clean the garage cause I have too much stuff to store in the house and it has go somewhere.  In general, I never thought of these things as ways to improve myself but rather ways to get out of doing stuff I hated.  That served me well as a young adult but alas I, too, had to grow up and with growing up comes the nagging nuisance thought of improving yourself, being responsible and mature. Acting like an adult can be very draining.  One last thought before answering these adult, mature, personal improvement questions is that Henry may not want me for a friend anymore because on my application form it will admit grumpiness is part of my make up!  Ggrrrrrr!

There’s a lot of stuff I want to rid my life of.  Definitely clutter.  For years I’ve collected things. Things that mean something to me but not to those near me.  What will happen to that all?  And that is stressful to think it will all wind up in the dump.  Stress!  The question is for a person who is a habitual stresser, what things could I do to reduce it.  I would prefer if it would just go away rather than my having to do something to cause it’s exit.  Drama, I have two kids so it is hard to eliminate drama which just leads to more stress!  Covid, I’m doing my part but not sure it is working to eliminate the disease which causes me more stress yet again.

There are things I’d like to do more of in 2021.  For years I was an avid model railroader.  It was the only thing my dad, brother and I ever did together.  I have collected mounds of paraphernalia- trains, structures, everything all neatly stored in my basement but the hobby has progressed technologically well beyond my capabilities.   I would love to set up a layout again and play with my trains.  I’d like to write more and make my voice heard.  I’d like to be the perfect dad ( wait, that takes real effort).  And I’d like to get some things accomplished at my house which requires organization, money, and planning, 3 more things I’m not very good at which just causes me more STRESS!

I am truly grateful for the relationship I have with my kids, I have friends who sustain me and actually tolerate my quirks and sense of humor, and I have a constant canine and 2 feline companions that have been with me throughout this entire Covid journey.  I am truly thankful for these things.  

So what do I resolve to do to improve ME in this coming year?  Wait a minute…..last  year I resolved not to make anymore New Year’s Resolutions this year!   Nevermind……

Best Foot Forward

I admire Hen – if he says it, he will do it. His goals for 2021 are bound to be achieved! On a less reliable note, here goes a shot at his very good questions:

Question:  What do I want to get rid of?

First, I share Hen’s desire to prefer life to be fair, but on the other hand I believe that we should continue to press for fairness as an expectation. If we all can imagine it and believe it, I suspect we can tip the scales to get closer to that end result. Sure, we will be disappointed now and again. However, keep in mind that fairness does not mean that there is always a happy ending – or even an ending, for that matter. I think of it as a never-ending thread in the warp and weft.

So what do I want to get rid of? Well, off to Hen’s second point: clutter. Now, if you have ever visited Hen, you realize that clutter is a relative concept. He is so neat and organized that I have a hard time picturing what he is sorting through. You want clutter – I’ll show you clutter!

Among other things, I hoard wood. Slabs, crotches, burls, spindles, blocks or all kinds. All air-drying for potential projects. Beautiful specimens of huge black cherry butt logs, walnut, flame box elder, osage orange, buckeye, kingwood, coyote wood — A to Zed: afzelia to ziracote. I am a wood ho’(arder). My aim is to clear out the excess wood under tarp and under roof and send it to Hen, so he really has something to sort through! Truly, I will reduce the dragon’s treasure of wood in 2021.

Question:  What do I want to do more of, less of, and keep the same?

More: 

  • Stay in touch: If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s not to take anything for granted. I’m not alone in losing – or almost losing – friends and dear ones. Strangely, only one loss was to COVID, but this season makes every loss more tangible. So, my desire is to stay in contact with those I care about and be more present and engaged. Left to my own devices, I would normally just stay busy and let the world pass by.
  • Continuing that thought: I tend to believe that while we all are the main characters in our own screenplay, sometimes we forget that at best, we are simply character actors in other people’s movies. In 2021, I’d like to do a better job of performing a supporting role in some wonderful stories.  
  • Creating: Linda and I find we are happiest when we are making things. I think for both of us, it’s a calling vs. a preference. Collaborating with my wife is a win-win! A must-do for 2021.
  • Last, I will work hard to attain an “attitude of gratitude” each day. Starting each morning, I will focus on three things for which to be grateful – and not the same three each morning. I won’t get out of bed until these are visualized.

Less:  (correspondingly, less elaboration)

  • Less time imagining every worst outcome. Boy, does that sap energy. 
  • As above, less time overly planning and constructing narrow definitions of success. Less time building mental labyrinths.
  • Less sedentary activity. Humans are meant to move.

Same:

  • See the humor in this existence. I can be intense at times, but the saving grace is always humor. Who could invent some of the situations in which we find ourselves enmeshed? Regarding many of today’s items of obsessive focus, I continue to ask myself, “Who will remember this in 50 years?” If the answer is ‘no one’, well then, ease up.
  • Stay in balance: life IS change – no two ways about it. We experience new terrain every day. When we walk on uneven ground, we shift our weight, juke left or right – but maintain our balance. There’s no telling what new contingencies will be introduced in 2021, but maintaining balance is the key.

4 thoughts on “Questions for Reflection

  1. To each of you – thank you for a year of ideas. opinions and values. Thank you for opening yourselves to us and allowing us inside.
    I haven’t made a resolution( or lenten promise) in years, but this year I will hope more, communicate more and love more.
    OB

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  2. Thanks for perspectives about time. If time passes in a continuum and no one is there to care, does time exist? Possibly, like measuring electrons, there’s only the probability time exists. Transformation of energy is as eternal as best we can tell. This marvelous organism my consciousness exists within, has an undetermined, yet definite, span of existence. Age brings me to care more about what I do when awake and aware, before I transform.
    As to the “beginning of time,” Bill Bryson writes about the Big Bang: “In a single blinding pulse, a moment of glory much too swift and expansive for any form of words, the singularity assumes heavenly dimensions, space beyond conception. In the first lively second is produced gravity and the other forces that govern physics. In less than a minute the universe is a million billion miles across and growing fast.” A factor, as yet I’m unable to grasp an explanation because that’s a distance at a rate faster than the speed of light, the one accepted constant and ultimate speed.
    Ahhh, to live in a state of awe, that whatever, whoever, I am, I am amid and a part of this mystery. With that, it’s “time” to stop…for “now.”

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    1. Great point: is the transformation of energy eternal? I read somewhere that from a Buddhist perspective, the mind of Buddha broke apart in an untold number of fragments, but they will eventually recombine — and that cycle will continue eternally

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