Happy New Year! May your year be full of joy and success, by your definitions and on your terms.
I think that qualification is important: your definitions of joy and success, achieved in a way that's right for you. We're all innundated with messages telling us that we're not enough, that now is the time to make a change for the better - you slob! - and I think these all represent empty illusions of forward momentum. Some of them, like aggressive calls to lose weight or make more money, border on cruelty. All of them carry a commercial subtext. You'll be a better person if you just buy this thing.
This year, I want to make some much more positive resolutions.
Sure, sharing your goals makes them less achievable, but the individual goals aren't really the point. And I'm certainly not going to beat myself up if I don't achieve them. It's much more about the theme and direction of my year - the broad strokes of how I hope to live and interact with the world. This year, the theme is "resist" - not just politically, but personally. Our political system isn't the only substrate at the mercy of rich manipulators wielding trillions of dollars. Advertising and commercialism want to break us down and reconstitute our needs and worries in terms of products to be sold. Money is in all of our blood, like mercury poisoning, leading us to poor decisions and unnecessary anxiety.
So here are some thoughts on how I want to live in 2019:
Try to be kind (vs nice). Have compassion for everyone, and a strong moral compass that leans towards equality, inclusion, and democracy. Don't tolerate intolerance. Don't be conflict-avoidant when strong words or actions are necessary. And remember that being kind includes being kind to yourself.
Have a bias towards action. Rather than waffle or over-plan, plant a flag and take action, even if that action turns out to be imperfect. I can always course correct. But life doesn't wait.
Make sure people know I love them. Tell them often.
Be a man. Which is to say, by my definition, not some arbitrary, outdated ideas of what masculinity entails. Every man (and every woman, and every human) gets to decide what being themself means.
Try to be healthier. Be happier in my own skin, and more forward-facing in my thoughts. Be stronger, physically and mentally. But remember that vulnerability is strength too; don't harden. And don't succumb to other peoples' ideas of how I should improve myself unless I'm sure they're not a reflection of their own desires and neuroses.
Try not to make fear-based decisions. Instead, think: where do I want to be in 2 years? In 5? In 10? Avoid acting in the short term as much as possible.
Read more. Books, not posts (although posts are great too). In 2019 I want to try and read a book a week.
Write (and draw) more. But only in partnership with reading more.
Limit my exposure. At Thanksgiving 2018, I decided to log out of social media and remove all my social apps - and I've been blogging almost every day instead. It's the best thing I've ever done on the internet as an adult. Suddenly, I was far removed from influencers, sponsored messages, and the outrage of the day. I feel no less connected to the people I love, or to what's happening in the world (in fact, I read far more journalism). I plan to continue this indefinitely for Facebook and its subsidiaries, although I'll probably return to Twitter now and then.
And finally, some quick specifics: Stop using Amazon. Be much better at email. Don't use ridesharing apps except in emergencies. Make eating out a special occasion instead of a regular activity. Commit to helping out with a Presidential campaign, somehow. And find ways to be more environmentally sustainable.
What are your resolutions? What are your hopes for the next year?
Picture: the first light of 2019, over Lake Mendocino, just outside Ukiah, CA.