New Year’s Non-Resolutions

The end of the year tends to spur people into becoming reflective. I’d argue that I tend to be fairly reflective most of the time anyway but there is something about the end of a year and the start of the new one that makes me think on a slightly broader scale. I live much of my life focused on the present; what tasks need to be completed, why are the kids crying, how do I get from point A to point B, etc. There are so many small fires to be put out that I sometimes forget about finding ways to stop them from starting in the first place. That is what this time of year is for: taking stock of where we were and what we’ve done and making decisions and plans for the coming year.

To that end, I thought of a few things I have in mind for the coming year. I’m not going to call them resolutions; I find that word has become too closely associated with fixing the pieces of ourselves that are “broken” and that’s not how I see myself. I have my share of flaws, to be sure, but there is a major difference between being imperfect and being broken. In that vein, I was looking for ways to build on the foundation that already exists, rather than making sweeping changes or starting from scratch. To use computing terminology, I want to upgrade the current software instead of repairing faulty wiring or installing an entirely new operating system.

One more thing: the tweaks I mention below vary in their degrees of importance. (There’s a reason I’m calling them tweaks.) It’s much easier to maintain slight adjustments over the long term than it is to keep up with large scale changes. I’d rather commit to smaller shifts that are more realistic than come up with loftier goals that set me up for disappointment.

And so, without further ado, I present my 2018 Non-Resolutions.

1. Stop the Hoarding

Let’s be clear: I’m not a hoarder. I don’t obsess with acquiring new things and I have no problem getting rid of garbage and junk mail that come into my apartment every day. Show me something I haven’t used in three years and I’ll throw it out without batting an eye (usually). What I do have a problem with is that I make piles. Piles of receipts, piles of electronics chargers, piles of papers that I may need but I’m not entirely sure. I make these piles because I don’t know where something should go immediately or because I’m just putting it down and intending to put it away later (which, of course, I never do).

2018 Non-Resolution: no more piles. If something is out, I’m going to put it away immediately. No more putting things down and “coming back to it.” I’ll have a specific spot for things I’m not ready for yet and make sure that it’s empty before I go to bed each evening.

2. Better Quality Family Time

A few nights ago, Trudy and I were watching television,1 which is not exactly a rare occurrence for us. Most of our evenings end up with the two of us sitting on the couch and watching a show while also scanning through social media feeds on our phones or doing work on the computer. This particular evening, though, ended differently. We had put away our phones and were actually sitting right next to each other, as opposed to near each other. We were both fully present in the moment2 and we were only focused on the show and each other. It was just… nice.

2018 Non-Resolution: focus on one thing at a time. Watch the show and nothing else. Be with Trudy and nowhere else. Play with my kids and be present with them. Leave the phone aside and keep my attention on the people I’m with so I can get more done and enjoy being with the people closest to me.

3. Keep on Writing

This is a harder one than it may seem. There are times when the words just flow out, when I have the entire post formulated in my head before I even start typing. Then there are other times, though, where I start and stop numerous times before finding an opening that seems to stick. I’ll be the first to admit that some posts are “better” than others – more creative, more heartfelt, more meaningful. It depends heavily on the subject matter of the post. But, no matter how the post turns out, I know that I feel better about myself when I can publish new posts consistently.

2018 Non-Resolution: keep the streak going. I’ve published a new blog post in nine of the last ten weeks (I took Thanksgiving week off) after having gone through a four-month dry spell. I’ve been feeling more confident about my work and my ability to find the words to describe my experiences. I need to make sure I continue my progress.

These are a few of my non-resolutions. Feel free to leave some of your own in the comments section, whether they’re significant life-altering moves or little adjustments to make your daily routines go more smoothly. Either way, I wish all of you a happy and healthy new year. May 2018 bring all of us more laughter than tears, more successes than setbacks and more love than heartbreak. Oh, and of course, plenty of writing material.

Happy new year.

 


1. For the record, we were watching The West Wing. We never watched the show when it was airing and we started binge-watching it around Christmas when our current shows were on winter break.

2. I mean, as much as one can be when watching television.

Why Do I Do This?

Why?

Such weight for such a small word.

The other question words – who, what, where, when and how, just in case you’re a bit more removed from early elementary school grammar lessons – have their places and are important in their own rights. They are our primary avenues for obtaining information about an event. They help us find out facts by providing tangible, concrete information. They are straightforward; who was there, when did it happen, where did they go. “Why” is less obvious, though. Why deals with intent. Why is about cause and motivation and reason. Who and what and where are fairly easy; the answers may not always be readily apparent, but there is usually a way to find those answers. Why is murkier, though. While the other interrogatives exist in black and white, “why” floats through the ether in various hues of grey.

“Why” just has… more.

All the big questions start off with “why.” Why do we do the things we do? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do we idolize athletes and actors? Why do we strive for specific body types? Why do we judge each other for making different choices?

Why are we here?

I hope I haven’t scared you off. This post has a very heavy feel to it so far and that wasn’t my intent when I started it. I had one particular “why” question in mind and this is the introduction I went with. Also, I may have majored in philosophy, but that doesn’t mean I have the answers to any of the other questions I mentioned. Most people spend their entire lives and many more pages than a simple blog post trying to find those answers; far be it from me to say that I can spell out those answers in 800 words or so. In fact, starting to ask those questions can lead down an extremely deep rabbit hole, so I’m going to just leave them there and move on.

The question I had in mind1 was, “Why do I write?”

It’s a fair question. My original intention was to paint a picture of the various ways I’ve changed since Eitan was born and to document some of the things he has done that have affected Trudy and me as parents.2 Part of it is so that I can go back and see where we all came from and the ways we’ve all changed. The other part, as I’ve mentioned before, is that I’m using this blog as a way for me to communicate with my son, especially once he’s older. He’ll be able to go back and read these entries and get an idea of what it’s been like for me going through the experiences of being a first time father. He’ll be able to get a picture of what he was like as a young child and some of the things he can look forward to when he starts his own family.

But, since we’re talking about progressions, I have to also say that I feel like the blog has become so much more than just documentation. It’s still a medium for communication with an older Eitan and the future me, but it’s also become a space for me to share other ideas about how I see the world around me. If the main purpose were just documentation, I would be better off just taking videos of everything instead of processing events and putting my particular take on them. Instead, I take the time to think more in depth about the things I’ve seen and done and the process of putting my thoughts down on “paper”3 serves as a release. I no longer have to hold onto the emotions that were affecting me in the moment and the writing helps me to get a better understanding of the experience.

When Trudy first suggested to me that I should start a blog, my first reaction was, “Who wants to hear what I have to say?” 59 posts, 160 followers on Facebook and over 5000 total blog views later, it would appear that more people are interested in my take than I originally thought. I hope that my writing has helped other people work through some of their issues while also reading about the things I’m going through. If nothing else, I hope that my blog posts have provided a bit of a diversion and made people smile here and there. Thanks to all of you for taking the ride with me. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am.

(Also, last week’s poem notwithstanding, today is Christmas Eve, so I’d like to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone too.)

 


1. To be fair, this question was actually posed to me. I put some feelers out on Facebook looking for suggestions for writing topics and my father (another philosophy major, for the record) proposed this one.
2. Let’s be honest: everything about Eitan has affected us as parents. The blog is just a highlight reel, at best.
3. Quotation marks because I write on my phone or my tablet, usually while I’m on the subway.