Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Whose List IS This, Anyway?!

As I sat down to conjure up a few wise words for my obligatory New Year’s post, I decided it more important to fold a bit of laundry, take a bowl of soup out of the freezer to thaw, and to put away a few Christmas decorations. Before I put fingers to the keyboard, then, I lit a couple of candles to set the mood, turned on some soft music and put on a pot of tea. Nothing. I updated Twitter, checked my email, posted a Facebook status, looked a bit into my birth chart. I’ve always found astrology fascinating. Maybe I’ll take it up as part of my New Year’s resolutions. Except that I don’t do resolutions. So why am I doing a New Year’s post? Focus, Tammie. Focus. And why can I not string together two words in the spirit of motivating and uplifting?

Lord. What’s the matter with me?

This is, after all, the year I turn fifty, the year I celebrate twenty-seven years of marriage, and, for Pete’s sake, I’m a writer. This is what I DO. I should have some major soul pouring to do at a time like this. Why, then, do words escape me at the very moment I choose to send a bit of hope and encouragement your direction?

Can I confess a minute? I’ve never been much a fan of this time of year. But, it’s a time for change, for renewal, for hope. Excuse me, but isn’t that EVERY day? Don’t we have opportunity at ANY moment to choose the better way? Every morning we wake, as I see it, is a time for change, for renewal, for hope. And yet, most of us will wait for the turning of the calendar to scribble out a list of improvements that aren’t even our own (admit it, do you REALLY want to drop twenty pounds and hit the gym three times a week?), take manic steps to pursue those improvements, and then promptly discard that list by month’s end, at which point we will begin hating on ourselves because we are quitters, losers, failures of quantum measure. Can we not get more creative than this? Can we not dig deep within ourselves and acknowledge that which has been doing its best to seduce us since we entered this world and consider ourselves try-ers for making efforts toward progress rather than quitters for saying, “Hey, I’m glad I gave it a shot, but, you know, it’s really just not my thing?” I’d put big money on the fact, for example, that most of us have some secret desire we would love to pursue but feel it ridiculous, inappropriate, or somehow unreachable. Please, for the love of God and your own growth and sanity, make THAT list.

My daughter wants to travel the world. She is headed, right now, into her last term in her undergraduate studies. At a time when her friends are suiting up for the big interview, she is booking a two-month work-stay at a bed and breakfast in Scotland. She goes from there to visit a friend in Spain. This, after spending the past summer as an au pair for a family in New Zealand. Roman Krznaric, in one of my favorite blogs, suggests that “if we wish to transform our own lives, we may have to defy cultural norms and risk standing out from the crowd.”

Why is this such a difficult concept?

Pardon me, but as much as I like you, I have zero time to live YOUR life. What you think of my actions, how you judge my words, and where you believe I should go with my talents, gifts, and skills are of no concern to me. I seem odd to some, strange to many, and silly to more than I can name. So be it. I have a mission in life. That mission is to empower others to move to a more positive place in their lives, to uplift, move, motivate, encourage, inspire. I want to positively impact the lives of huge numbers of people through speaking, writing, and teaching. I want to bring peace, love, and compassion to those with whom I cross paths and those I may, in fact, never meet. Idealistic. That’s what people call me. They say I live behind rose-colored glasses and operate with lofty, worthy goals, yes, but that my vision could never possibly happen. So? What’s the worst that could happen? I only make ONE person happy when they’re having a crap of a day? I inspire just ONE person to leave a soul-deadening job? How is that a bad thing? How is that failing?

I think too many of us put our dreams aside because we feel them too big, too elusive, an all-or-nothing prospect. We make a list of other people’s dreams, dreams that are easy, doable, within reach, and then we fail because we’re not interested, because they aren’t our dreams at all. Or worse, we succeed and we begin living the life someone else would like us to live, in which case we truly fail. On my part, I choose to follow my own dreams. And, seriously, if I can make one person smile, fill one heart with love, or elicit just one laugh I’m checking that baby off my list. And I’m not waiting until next year to do it.

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