2018: Gird your loins & Into the Fray We Go!

1 01 2018

Weather: Start of the year greets us with arctic temps (teens + subzero windchills), blowing snow & cloudy skies. Normal winter in Michigan in other words. 🙂 

So, in following up on the post I made yesterday, time to look forward. A friend had posted on Ye Olde Facebook about picking a word to focus on for the new year. I had a hard time picking just one, so I fudged a bit and picked two: Minimalism and Compassion. I mentioned yesterday that I also added Evolution. 

Minimalism is something I’ve been working towards slowly for the past couple of years. I’ve seen the movie (Minimalism) and read some good articles about reducing your material belongings. It is appealing to me at my age to own less. The oft quoted line from Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, – “The things you own end up owning you…”- really started resonating.  Husbeast and I have been trying to chisel down our belongings to a more manageable level. After moving into our house in 2015, we came to a rather swift realization that, even though we’d gone from a one-story house to a two-story house, we had actually reduced our square footage and lost a couple rooms. This meant we had additional decor and furniture with nowhere to put them. So we started parting with things. This year we’re gonna focus on accelerating the process.

This drive for minimalism is not just restricted to things, but also outdated routines and thought processes. I have a bad habit of complicating things, more than necessary, and that can ripple out and gum up the works exponentially. It has been a problem I’ve dealt with for far too long. So this morning, as I was putting together our morning coffee, I mulled over what was the source of this complication. Came to a rather easy conclusion that I spent a lot of time last year reacting out of worry or panic to things, and this lead to scrambling towards a sloppy, and usually half-assed, resolutions. So the change necessary here was to take a breath, be more patient and – instead of sending out scattershot, barely thought out solutions- start with patient determination, and take the time to actually resolve the problem. I am going to learn to accept that some things may not get addressed with my perceived (I.E. not real) urgency, but they will be taken care of completely, and hopefully, with the right amount of accuracy.  My anxiety attack last year could be easily sourced in this constant stress of taking care of ALL THE THINGS, RIGHT NOW.

The Compassion part of my focus is an ongoing process for me. I am not particularly judgmental. I try very hard to look at a person’s motivations rather than just respond to their immediate statement or actions. This does not mean any sort of  condoning or excuse is made for bad behavior or awful utterances.

I see far too many people who equate compassion with weakness or “letting people off the hook”. Neither of which is remotely true. You can condemn someone’s action yet still be compassionate. The lack of compassion I see most often is the “That person isn’t trying hard enough” to escape poverty, or unemployment, or disability. It’s enough to make me want to shake people. Compassion doesn’t excuse, but it does try to seek a better solution. It doesn’t blame, but it tries to understand the situation to help carve out a better path or make better choices. Sometimes compassion just requires you to listen, and not advise or suggest. Sometimes it requires you to observe and not get involved. Most times, it motivates you to do what you can to lessen the suffering of others. The latter part is what I intend to focus on. Whether by supplying support by my presence or my money or my knowledge, I will continue to do what I can to help where I can. Mind you, this does not mean I rush in unrequested. It means to be aware of situations and offer help where I can, if needed, or asked for.

On the last point of focus- Evolution- this is more an ongoing process for me that started a few years ago. This is the first year in a while where I have a clear idea of the person I want to become. (Not a mirror of someone else, or an emulation of them, but a better version of me.) I have a visual in my head, along with a skill set I need to acquire, and a set of personal goals that are much clearer than they have been in a while.

Resolutions are literally a re-framing of your fixes for your perceived problems. Some are new attempts to address long time issues. Some are new issues that require brand new solutions. They’ve come to be laundry lists of things people think they need to address and often, they end up erasing most of the list early in the year as their commitment fails or a new crop of priorities crop up to re-order their list.

That why I think the focus idea works better for me than the usual laundry list of vague categorical resolutions. I have an image of how I’d like myself and the world to be, and now I have some perspective changes and action steps I can put into place that will start a momentum towards both those goals: Reducing my physical burdens, providing some self-care, becoming more aware of those around me and their struggles, and scraping off the old image of myself for the new version that will aid in achieving my goals.

There are other details at work, but I’m not sharing them just yet. Some goals are not jelled in my mind enough to declare them.  We shall see how the year unfolds.

There are so many possibilities unfurling right now. And I don’t want to miss them because I’m bogged down in old assumptions, regrets and distractions. Too much new music, new stories and new art to experience and create. Here’s to 2018! Here’s to snatching back the reins in my life and MAKING things happen.