Surprise. I have complicated feelings on 2019. As we head straight for that most aspirational of drunken nights, I’m filled with frustration, anger, disappointment (mostly in myself), and the urge to lash myself several times and make myself promise to do better next year. I’m vulnerable as fuck to the hegemony of all the things I should do–or be, finish, or start. And all I’ve got in my head most of the time is, “I want a drink. I will not drink. I want a drink. I will not drink. I want a drink. Will I really not drink?”
My favorite joke of 2019: If I could drink like other people, I’d do it all the time. (I didn’t come up with that on my own. Someone said it in a meeting.)
636 days have passed one day at a time. I have not always done the next right thing, but I’ve stayed sober. In the words of Bill Murray, “So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.”
The title of this post is a weird half-pep talk / half-prayer I came up with for myself. It describes the version of myself I actually like–though not necessarily the version of myself I always am. When I manage to hold onto that image, things feel like they unspool in a more tolerable way. I guess that description feels like it’s taken several deep breaths already. Perhaps that’s why I like it. Nothing rah-rah-I’m-the-best-yeehaw about it, either, which is good, because that shit grosses me out. (I remember a time I could still listen to songs like Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” or Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now.” Not anymore. Nope. Heroic music freaks me out. Feels like empty empowerment. Like an emotional pacifier.)
So, sure, I didn’t write a complete story in 2019. I meant to. I wanted to. I want to get back in the game. I want to put the sadness behind me and get back to work. I don’t intellectually see a reason not to. The trouble is more that I feel like a garbage person, and what does a garbage person have to say that anyone needs to trouble themselves with? That answer does not come easily to me.
Sorry. I know it’s tiresome to call myself a garbage person. Trying to stop.
Speaking of trying, I was never one to turn my nose up to New Year’s resolutions; I tend to admire the bravery of anyone setting earnest goals for themself. How else are we supposed to grow or evolve? Yet this year more than other years I remember, I’m conscious of all the ways the things I think I should do are measurements custom-fit to not fit me. A goal you know you’re not going to reach is nothing other than scheduled self-punishment. Might decline that invite this year, even if I hear it calling me this very moment. (Yeah, I’ve been reading things on the Internet that have pointed this stuff out. Didn’t come up with this on my own, either. I’m not that clever.)
“Oh, you should just set achievable goals,” you might argue. Mm. Yes. Achievable. Trouble is, there’s a lot of stuff that is achievable. I’ve written entire novels in the past. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to do it again. Doesn’t stop it from feeling like a trap right now.
And there’s that word, again, too: “just.” Just write another story. Just do the next right thing. Just be positive. Just be better.
It’s so easy. Just do it.
Just eliminate just from your vocabulary.
Just do the audiobook. Just edit the novels. Just write the script. Write the new books. Write the new stories. Read the books. Write the reviews. Exercise. Get fit. Learn how to live sustainably. Learn the new things. Get better at the old things. Do service. Make amends. Save the world.
I mean … for fuck’s sake. Some days, if I do the dishes and take out the garbage, it feels like moving through mud against the tide. So. Yes. I see the ocean of all that I should.
And I collapse on the shore.
So maybe for right now, I’m just going to sit here and watch the waves go in and out. Then maybe head back, cook dinner, do the dishes, take out the garbage, and put the kid to bed.
Then … I don’t know. Then we’ll see, I guess. But if I can be sad, patient, on time, far from perfect, and here until close … maybe that will be okay.
I still really hope I write something complete and new in 2020, but I might just (dammit!) keep reading self-help articles on the Internet and playing videogames way too late into the night.
Happy new year.