If there is one thing I can say about 2015 it is this: I am not the same person today as the one who stepped into the year 365 days ago. And the oddest part of that revelation—I don’t really know why and I’m not really certain in what way.
Perhaps that is fitting for such a year. It passed quickly, but in a vague sort of manner. I think in the future I’ll remember it the way one suddenly remembers some old, one season show. One you recall enjoying although the details are a bit fuzzy—nostalgic in the lack of specifics. The kind of show that makes you turn to another and say, “hey what was that program, the one with the guy who does the thing,” and all you can provide is some innocuous detail like, “remember? He always wore that strange ring?” Of course I won’t be able to search for my 2015 life on YouTube.
The year wasn’t unremarkable. In fact, I had a few achievements. I wrote my fourth novel. I won a book award and an award for a short story. Career-wise, I had one of my most creative years ever. I built my dream office. I even kept my gym commitment, adding two inches to my arms by averaging 3.8 days a week at the gym (I’m a realist so I won’t ever have a goal of seven because it will negatively impact my Netflix time.)
And yet, the year still felt surreal.
Maybe it was the discovery that I’m allergic to soy. If you think that is no “big deal” I’ll inform you that a key ingredient in chocolate is soy lecithin. The tests also showed I’m allergic to palm trees which is perfect for a Floridian. Well there is no soy in vodka, so it’s not the end of the world.
Vagueness seems an odd way to finish the final year of my forties.
They say age is a mental state. That’s good because I don’t know how a fifty year old is supposed to act. Fifty seems old and I don’t feel old…maybe that changes as I advance through these final three months of the 40’s. My body, however, is telling a slightly different story. Toward the end of the year, I began tracking my weightlifting progress by injuries—pulled the left bicep…oh now the left shoulder…ouch that may be a chest muscle…damn there goes the lower back. A few times I thought about filling the hot tub with Blue Emu (doesn’t smell like Ben-gay).
I am not without theories as to the “why” behind the perceived “weirdness.” I feel strongly about one theory in particular. It’s not the one where we are in a time warp (although that’s cooler). I came upon it as I considered my 2016 intentions. I found myself staring at the blank page of my newest journal. I had gotten as far as writing 2016 with my new fountain pen (which by the way I suck at using). The pen approached the paper. It stopped and then retreated. It approached again—nothing.
An odd experience for an odd year. In years past I could fill the page with to-do’s. This year I seemed to have no intentions at all…at least for the moment. I was tempted to just write “more of the same” under the year. Instead, I realized that I was having the opposite of a mid-life crisis. I wasn’t filled with angst to “achieve.” There was no regrets for things I hadn’t done. I had no feeling that I was racing the clock toward my final days or that opportunities had passed me by. Instead…
I realized I felt really good about my first fifty years. More importantly I felt good about me. Sure, I hadn’t shucked off vanity. In fact, thanks to the weight training my vanity had received a nice little boost. The good feelings were generated not by accomplishments, but by acceptance. The spiritually esoteric say that the real messages in our lives show up long before we notice the signs. They hint and remind—plod us to discovery—and usually, we are are own messengers.
Earlier in the year I had written the prologue for my third Creeper book. The chapter title Sin Qua Non, translated means, “without which, this could not be.” The term, a fitting description of my feelings about my own life. Every decision, good or bad, successful or disastrous, added up to the place I now sat. I have no regrets because even the bad, disastrous stuff I would not change. It is all interwoven with this life—a life I love—and one I would not want any different. Not perfect, but mine.
The surreal world of 2015 was a looking glass. A misty pane that provided clarity. I realized I had become a person who is (almost) completely honest with himself. A person who could be proud of accomplishments without apology. A person who could laugh at his shortcomings and admit the chinks in the armor without fear of ego or a foolhardy notion to promise to change those things. A person who could answer the question—what are your weaknesses?—without trying to manage the perceptions like some job interview response—my greatest weakness is attention to detail…uggh, really?
Most importantly I discovered the personal freedom such things provided. I don’t have to worry about what you think about me. I only need attend what I think of me.
I still have much to do. Much I want to achieve. But the things feel more important, more real, and my list of intentions feel authentic. Not some list of Facebook life image management tools. You won’t see my feet in the forefront of some ocean setting. I won’t be writing my next book in a hipster coffee cafe with the requisite cappuccino Instagram. I won’t be professing my wife as the greatest love of my life–it’s not important that you know that, only that she does. I’m usually too involved in the best moments to think about snapping pictures and uploading them to FB…sometimes I do…but not often. And mostly because I hear Mark Zuckerberg is giving away…oh stop it already.
I like authenticity. If I “check-in” at some fancy restaurant in the interest of “sharing” then I’d also have to check in every time I went to Denny’s or McDonalds…which is far more often then time spent at The Tavern on the Green. I don’t begrudge people who present their lives in a certain way on social media. In fact, it provides such ample opportunities to be snarky and allows me to speculate on the depth of their unhappiness and self-esteem issues (come on, be honest, you know you’re smack talking and judging your FB friends).
Of course, with a little less than nine hours left in the year, my intentions journal still has only the date. I won’t be writing them tonight—for tonight, we dance. It won’t be pretty, but it will be fun. But I’m sure over the weekend I’ll pen a few things—one is to practice my handwriting so I can properly use this damn fountain pen. I may edge my workout days up to 4.5 and I’m definitely self-inflicting the “100,000 push-ups this year” challenge. I will, of course, finish the Creepers Saga and since I have rediscovered my love of short story writing, I’m going to publish my anthology. The rest is really just more of the same…only better.
There was one other thing I discovered in this weird 2015 journey. Looking back I see that the first third of my life was about learning what I had to do…and what I had better not do. The second third was about responsibility—doing all those things that a father and husband must do. This last third is for me. What do I want to do with the remainder of this life? What do I want to see when I look back at it on that some future last day? What do I want it all to mean for me?
The New Year is a dream of all that might be. The old year a ghost of moments past. For me, how the ghost and the dream dance is choreographed within a single line…
Every dream, every possibility, and every journey – real or imagined – begins with two words, “what if…”
There seems plenty of time to ask all the possible “what ifs”…the only question that remains… but what shall it be?
Categories: Wit without Wisdom