Day 29 – “If I could accomplish one thing (anything) in 2013 it would be…”
I’m prone to all kinds of superstitions about a new year. Many’s the time in late December I would make pronouncements to myself about the coming year, often with at least a couple of drinks in my system, that went something like, “It couldn’t be worse than the past year.” Talk about the kiss of death!
I don’t drink much at all these days, having learned something about both my addictive personality and tendency to make depressing New Year’s predictions. If I do partake in alcohol or predictions, my practice is to never try to do both at the same time (thus ending a dazzling potential career as an alcoholic prognosticator). One thing in my favour in recent years is that the whole New Year’s ‘predictions & resolutions’ season seems to be over in a blur before I know it’s happened.
This year it’s going to be a little different. There are some kooky things happening with my body that I need to monitor in the coming year. This awareness was prompted by watching a video of me giving a talk back in July and noticing that I was talking out of one side of my mouth as though I’d had a small stroke. It scared the bejeebers out of me, and yet, I’m not going to google the thousands of reasons it could be happening: I’m sure it’s my old friend, Sjogren’s.
Increasingly, I find the words from my mouth have distorted phonemes. Sometimes my mouth seems to take on the wrong shape altogether or utter a totally different word to the one in my brain. When I’m writing, the same phenomenon appears. It waxes and wanes, but I often scramble, misspell and distort the smooth flow of words in my head, not to mention that my fingers often appear to be translating someone else’s thoughts at times. It requires a lot more editing on my part. It’s frustrating. It’s exhausting.
These observations mean two things:
1) I’ve learned enough from my Buddhist practices to observe what is with equanimity. I’m not going to rush to doctors with symptoms I can’t quantify and can only poorly explain because a) they don’t seem to feel any sense of urgency, and b) the treatments they offer are often worse than the symptoms. Our health care system operates on the principles of catastrophic medicine. That is, it only takes action when something has imploded, exploded, dropped off, metastasized or otherwise appears written on the holy grail of medicine as a scan or blood test that’s ‘well outside normal range’.
2) My ability to communicate through writing and art is my most treasured gift. If there is any funny business going on in the confines of my skull, I can’t afford to mess around with it. I’ve got to take ownership of what I do have, regardless of what it is and how it’s changed, and make the most of it.
The approach to 2013 has been a little shaky for me. There have been many naysayers talking about the world ending with either the Mayan calendar or the Rapture, and talk of ascendance and global shifts in consciousness and the like. I don’t know why I let this cause me any anxiety. I suppose there was some well-deserved annoyance, but I also felt cheated. Yes, cheated. If the world is going to end on December 21, 2012, then the timing is horrible because I’ve only just got a handle on what I want to do with my life!
Despite my anxiety that these people were trying to make life unduly complex what with predictions of the end times, the bottom line is that people are people and life is life. All people do ‘good’ and ‘bad’ things to some degree. Some will work to their highest good and others will stay where they are. Some will steal because they’re starving and others will steal because they want more. Some will have a spiritual awakening, and others won’t. Some will realize they’ve been rotten to others all their lives and will make amends, and some will keep on being mean and in some cases, awful.
Should the world end or a spiritual revolution ignite on December 21, 2012, it is what it is. That’s a statement I never really embraced until now, and even believed was a cop-out for not taking action. However, I’ve learned that sometimes the best action is observing and waiting for the right time to act.
Without further ado, these are the 13 accomplishments I wish to focus on in 2013.
1) I’m going to observe more. I’m going to use my scientist’s mind to analyze what I see and take note of what might be important. I’m going to use my observations to know when it’s time to act, and when it’s time to wait.
2) I’m going to observe my health more. I’m going to watch what helps it and hurts it, which medications and alternative treatments help and don’t help. I’m going to keep observing and removing treatments or influences that harm my health.
3) I’m going to observe the pain. Pain is supposed to be a messenger. Although the signals are intermittent and the connections crossed, I’m going to try to decode what pain means to me before it has me in the back of an ambulance. I’d like to avoid more ambulance rides! I’m also going to accept that at any time I might not have sufficient knowledge or observations to know what the pain means.
4) I’m going to keep breathing. Deep breathing often causes me pain: muscular pain, the dry rawness of my lungs, and the stabbing, seizing pain deeper in. I’m going to practice breathing as deep or as shallow as I can, when I can.
5) I’m going to take gradual steps to improve my nutrition, posture and movement, and to make improvements there. Improvements to my weight are not going to be a big stick used by anyone (including me) to beat further changes out of me. Changes for the better are gentle reminders that I can improve on the make and model I’ve been given. Most of all, I’m going to keep practising loving my body as it is.
6) I’m going to continue to simplify my life. Over the years I’ve done a lot of decluttering, but I’m going to continue. I find ‘stuff’ and clutter truly stresses me, and I feel more comfort in quiet spaciousness. I’m going to rest more often in that calm spaciousness too.
7) I’m going to write like no one is watching with no expectation of what I’m going to produce. I’m going to write a lot of crap between the good stuff, and I’m going to learn to be okay with that. That’s where editing comes in: as part of my day job, but also my creative work. Sometimes I’ll have to keep excavating and polishing to find the words. It may take more time than it used to. That’s okay.
8) I’m going to finish my semi-autobiographical novel next year. I’m going to finish at least one of my planned e-books. I’m going to keep blogging. I’m also going to make my first video log. It may also be my last. :)
9) I’m going to reconnect to my communities, including the people I’ve met through this challenge. I’m going to connect at a level that is sustainable and fun.
10) I’m going to continue seeking the elusive balance between my part-time work, my activist goals and my creative goals. I’m also going to find a regular sleep cycle that works and stick to it. Even if it’s the same as a vampire’s!
11) I’m going to visit my family in Australia. It’s time to connect.
12) I resolve to do all the above without measurable performance indicators, appraisals, checkboxes or software applications. I’m just going to practice all of the above with the best of intentions, whatever that happens to be on any given day. And if the world should end, life throws me a curve ball, or we all bloom into ‘awareness’, then I’ll be okay with that too!
In closing, I’m uber impressed that the sober folks at NASA have written a webpage to reassure us all that no calamities will befall us in December 2012. And they do so without a discernible snicker, and only the slightest hint of a paternal ‘there-there’! If NASA says it, so must it be.
Bring on 2013. I’m not (too) afraid of you anymore!