So, yeah. It’s time for the New Year. Bars are pulling out their specials signs, people are racing to the store to buy their last fried chicken or pack of cigarettes, gyms across the country are preparing for the stampede of people who resolved to get in shape starting tomorrow, only to be nearly vacant by March. And I once again wonder about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to tear down New Year’s resolutions. I actually think it’s kind of a quaint idea. But I find myself making resolutions all the time, and all throughout the year. And anyway, the idea of breaking bad habits with “one last binge” and starting up the next day is self-defeating. Whenever I try to do that, it just entrenches the habit further and I wind up discouraged.
All the same, though, the power of the old year dying and the new one being born, is much too propitious of a moment to let it pass away without doing something. And honestly, I’ve got plenty of self-destructive habits. But if the inner mechanisms that promote and perpetuate these self-destructive habits are left unexamined and unchanged, the bad habits will remain.
So without further ado, and in no particular order, I submit to you my list of mental habits for 2018 and beyond. There are eight items, not because there are only eight things I need to pay attention to, but because eight is my favorite number. But anyway:
The New Years’ Truths of 2018…or…A Compendium of Charlie’s Future:
- I am a healer, not a warrior: I swear, I’ve been saying this for years now, but I haven’t been acting upon it. Yeah, I’ve been in a position most of my life to have to fight, but that doesn’t make me a fighter. A cat pretending to be a dog doesn’t scare or impress anyone. Neither do I when I deny my nature. My truest, deepest strength is my heart, my intuition, compassion and empathy, listening to and caring about other people. This is the spring and source of all my power; my intellect, my physical strength, my creativity are all bound into the strength of my heart. This needs to be the consistent wellspring of my power.
- Nothing is forever, and not everything is abandonment: As I was telling my friend…today, actually, I have a bad habit in my mind, one that has affected a lot of my friendships and relationships. Given my own life’s events, it’s no surprise to me that I hate and fear abandonment and want everything to be forever. So, when things end, which they inevitably do, I blame it on myself and go into self-imposed exile, loathing myself for what “went wrong” and feeling undeserving of the thing that made me happy, but is now gone. In fact, I’ve come dangerously close to losing friends this way, not feeling it was my right to “impose” upon them and secretly hating myself for what I see as my failure. So no more of this. I want to start accepting that these things are not made to last forever and remember that my feeling of abandonment is the one I’ve carried with me since infancy. It hurts, but it’s not the same. I cannot recreate the past, but honoring and cherishing it is something vital, the truest, most eloquent expression of love and gratitude. I will resist the feeling of abandonment that I carry with me and will not transpose it where it doesn’t belong. I will accept impermanence in my life.
- I’m worth it: No Explanation Needed. But I do need to have a sharper eye on this and not place myself in a position to be exploited.
- Keep on looking for “revolutionary” things…: Revolutionary art, revolutionary jobs, revolutionary friends, revolutionary love. Things that refuse to obey social norms, that break the bounds of what was possible, that recognize no master and challenge authority, these are what the world so desperately needs now. We need more people in the world stepping out of line and refusing to cooperate, collaborate or passively consent to its destruction. Sometimes I feel bad that my life is certainly not the one expected of me, that I don’t have a permanent residence, a permanent job, or much in the way of “respectable” middle-class prospects. And you know something, it’s a good thing I don’t, because I’m not the Destroyer, and anything like that that I did would have to be mediated very strongly on my own terms. Besides, plenty of people in my broke-ass generation are in the same place as me, and even if they weren’t, I wouldn’t want that life anyway. My wandering days are not over; I want to enjoy them more and succumb to no pressure put on me to conform or force myself into anything where I feel restrained (See №3).
- …But don’t be a dick about it: No Explanation Needed.
- Don’t be afraid to create…: It’s only been recently that I’ve had the balls to start creating for creation’s sake again. I sometimes feel like somebody’s watching me, looking down on my work, or telling me I’m wasting my time doing it and should turn my attention to practical things. Or worse, that it’s my duty to write because I have a talent for it. Even writing this damned list, I feel a little of that. That’s the stupid Puritan conditioning that’s been in my family since the Mayflower landed, and just one more thing that holds me back. I’ve been hiding my light under a basket, and why should I content myself with placebos? Yeah, this will be a hard year, continuing my wandering, working, writing and creating, in my private life, with friends and those I meet, and in whatever my job is at the time. But this is what I was born to do. I want to feel the rush of my own creative power and vision, writing words that shoot to kill and verses that create the world anew. And I want my creative power to be the light that guides me through dark and lonesome times, but also that which makes me shine all the brighter in lighthearted times. And god knows, we need some more creators and people who want to push back now, more than ever.
- …And watch what you consume: This applies to everything: TV, food, tobacco, Internet, alcohol, entertainment. The reason we consume is because we need something (ideally). If you’re hungry, eat something. If thirsty, drink. But now we’ve gotten disconnected from this and consume solely for the sake of consumption. And all of these things we consume have effects, the likes of which I can barely trace with my index finger or even guess accurately at. Why should other humans, animals, plants, trees, suffer because of the wanton greed programmed into our decadent society? So, before consuming anything, I want to ask: can I do better myself? Can I find an alternative to this consumption? What is this really getting me? so I can gauge whether it’s really necessary, or if I’m consuming for another reason.
- Keep your friends close: This one’s a lot like the impermanence and abandonment one, but you know, I realized I have a lot of friends. Granted, they’re scattered across the country and the world right now, but they’re still my friends. And I’ve been shitty at keeping touch with them, whether from family problems or simple fear or that “imposition” nonsense I keep convincing myself of. But I’ve lost enough friends in my life that I’m not in the mood to lose more. And it’s not an imposition on somebody who likes you and your company to want to be in their company. My thinking on friendship needs to change: I was brought up to believe that “if your friends want to see you, they’ll reach out to you, you’re intruding otherwise”, but now I recognize this as just another way of being told I was tainted and befouled in some subtle but essential way and was not worthy of other people’s friendship or affection. Besides, I like my friends, those I’ve made recently and those that still remain from years past. I’ve come too close to losing them to jeopardize them any longer. Better touch with friends, via e-mail, snail mail, even the occasional phone call, would probably make them happy too.
So here it is. No concrete resolutions on things I will do or avoid doing, but mental habits I want to cultivate to make my life better. I know I’m steadfast, determined, gritty and hardworking. I know my compassion is the true source of my strength. I know my smart mouth will continue to get me in trouble, but serve me well all in all. I know my rebellious streak and revolutionary spirit, both its outer expression and its innermost heart. But I need these to be solid, consistent and polished to a full sheen. What I resolve myself to do in the New Year is to come that much closer to becoming myself, just a little more fully as facets I never thought, much less dreamed of, continue to present themselves.
I hope this helps somebody. If not, it felt good to write it.
Fuck you, thank you, I love you all! Happy New Year!