I am really digging one of my Christmas presents, the Neil Young memoir Waging Heavy Peace. I love the structure of back and forth between crucial stuff in youth and the passions that still drive him in the present--the new Crazy Horse project; the electric car; PureTone audio, trains. It makes me think about New Year’s, about resolutions, in a particular way. I’m thinking about what works, the quirkier the better.
What works for you? Is it weird? Does it make you feel like a weirdo? Do you need to prepare one and one half PBJ sandwiches, sharpen five #2 pencils, and listen to Mozart before you can paint/sing/go to work/deal with reality? What works--and what doesn’t work? That’s the new year’s resolution I’m circling around, not too aggressively. In any given routine or methodology, maybe something else works better. What is it? Why not try it?
Last year’s resolution stayed with me more than any resolution, ever. I resolved to chew my food and eat more slowly and taste what I’m eating and be more aware and think about all the processes that went into the food before it ended up in front of me. It was both a pleasure-oriented resolution, and one that opened up the world in my imagination and awareness, with gratitude for people: farmers, pepper-pickers, truckers, clerks, cooks, grocery bag makers, fork-and-spoon quality checkers, and of course, Tracy, who often prepared the food. And sometimes I just wolfed down my food, per some mindless habit-drive. When someone prepares a meal and you eat it in four minutes in some kind of reptile brain trance, that is very bad manners. That does not work.
This resolution crossed my mind at least once, and sometimes three times a day, and led to some small percentage improvement in my everyday presentness. There’s a statistical aspect to being present--you gotta haul your ass back from whatever trip your mind is on and do what you are doing with full awareness. You have to do this lots of times. This is never more obvious to me than when eating. Eating is my friend. Being present to eating is alright. What’s so hard about practicing mindful eating? It’s not like being present to joint pain during a ten-hour meditation session. That’s got to be hard. Eating Red Baron 4-cheese pizza retrofit with jalapenos, red onions, and goat cheese is easy. So I resolved to go easy, and go easy with eating. And failed alot of the time. But it stayed front of mind, all year.
So, what works? Writing every day works for me, I think. I would be a crazier person than I am without writing. But then again I’m not sure. Sometimes I want to take a walk when I get up, and not write. Sometimes I want to draw, or play bass. And writing in a notebook used to work, but now Google docs works. I think. Writing in a notebook is more physical, but my handwriting is poor, and makes the writing very hard to share, if I come up with something I want to share. Sometimes I write a poem or a lyric and can’t even read it myself. Maybe I could cut out writing altogether, and do everything with voice recognition software.
Last year’s resolution was a good one, I think, because it came up at least three times a day and was not a prohibition. Being aware of habit and what works, and what does not work, that is more like tennis without a net. I might forget that resolution after a month. So maybe I need a daily sub-reminder of the primary resolution. Example: here’s something that doesn’t work, and something that does. Shaving every few days does not work, for me. Past a certain point I don’t want to deal with the whisker scrag, so I let it go, and then my friend Ryan at work teases me about “letting myself go.” Shaving every day works. It’s easy, doesn’t take long, and doesn’t entail painful whisker pulls, sink-clogging, and face scraping.
What works? What doesn’t work? I’m not talking about judgemental scrutiny of complacency. I’m talking about enjoying doing things the way we do them but wondering...would something work better? Does this openness come to me naturally? It does not. I like to settle into predictability. Most people do, it's not a big deal, it's just something to keep in mind.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND YOURS FROM ME AND MINE!