Continuing on the theme of year-end reflection and evaluation…it’s nearing the end of the year, and that’s about the time I yank my head out of my ass and try to evaluate what I’ve made of my life in the past year.
I’m considering new habits I’ve begun and old habits I’ve left behind. I’m evaluating what I must keep and what I should give away. Where I’ve come from, where I am, and where I’m heading.
For the first time in my life, this year I’m finding myself Making Plans. I have several versions, and multiple durations. The 5 year plan is sort of exciting to me. Five years from now, I will be well beyond being directly responsible for the day-to-day activities of any other human being. Not that I’m incredibly responsible for them now. I’m thankful that both of the boys are fairly self-contained and marginally on track. But still. I’m here. In five years, they will largely be independent & hopefully more reliant on each other for a boost up.
In 5 years I will make a decision based on where my kids live and how much they need/want me in their lives. In 5 years I will move towards where I will be for the rest of my life. I will commit to a geographical location. It might be right where I am, but it could be far away. I’m not even allowing myself to imagine where. If I am not here, I hope to be able to buy some land. I won’t need much in the way of a house, but it will be good to have some land.
In 5 years I will be better at several things. I will be better at keeping chickens, better at growing food, better at drawing things, better at building things, and possibly beginning to gain experience in some sort of textile art. I will be stronger and healthier and have better stamina.
In five years, I MIGHT be ready to write that novel I started writing 20 years ago. It’s funny – 20 years ago, I was sure I already had the perspective necessary to process the events of my coming of age in a way that conveyed some sort of universal truth. I’m less sure of my ability to do so now than I was then. I’m not even sure there is such a thing as a universal truth. I imagine in five years I’ll have more perspective, but I’m not counting on it. Maybe in five years I’ll just say “fuck it” and learn to fictionalize better so I can approximate a universal truth without doing fatal harm to my memories of certain people.
In five years I’ll likely have all new chickens. I might have an additional cat or two. Possibly an extra dog.
I honestly can’t imagine having a romantic partner in five years. I’m interested in fully owning my future without another human being gumming up the works. However, I’ve been known to get distracted by such things at inconvenient times, so I’m not ruling it out. Five years from now me will just have to roll with whatever.
To enact this five year plan, I have some things I need to focus on this coming year.
First, I need to celebrate what I’ve accomplished this year. I’m taking time off around my birthday to do this. I was going to go on a little retreat somewhere, but have changed my mind. Instead, I’m going to spend my time off painting the laundry room, laying flooring, paying a handyman to fix some of the interior doors in this house, and buying myself a nice washer and dryer and laundry table.
And in between bouts of painting and flooring, I’ll be arting. Hopefully getting the zine done. And planning. Because I enjoy planning.
I already kind of am planning some things for next year. First – no more planners. My new system of planning is based on my computer calendar and written to-do lists on my days off. No more “carrying over” tasks. I’ve internalized my time budget and I know what my priorities are.
However, I will be starting two new journals…perhaps three. Definitely a garden journal (I’ve already started one, and I love keeping track of that stuff in a separate space that I can reflect on when I’m in the garden) and also a cooking journal. I’m thinking about a media journal, as well, so I can jot down notes about the media I consume throughout the year. I have such a bad memory about those things, and taking the time to write my thoughts down …I feel like that will make the experience more worthwhile, even if I am just watching Bob’s Burgers.
The cooking journal is something I’ve been needing to do for awhile. I’ve been working with random recipes for awhile now, and I need to consolidate my favorites. I’ve sort of begun that. I have a good noodle sauce for asian noodles, a good carrot/zucchini/banana bread recipe, ratios for vinaigrette, pancake recipe, and iced coffee/tea recipes all on sticky notes in my kitchen. But I have a repertoire of things I cook and I’d like to transcribe those things that are mine and find the recipes I need to find more staples that I can make my own.
Some of the recipes I have already made my own are: veggie chili, artichokes, breakfast potatoes, tofu, sautéed collards, cosmic soup, Asian noodles, sautéed veggies and tortellini, and mushroom bourguignon. I’m sure there are more, but those are the ones that immediately spring to mind. I’m going to go over all of the recipes I’ve cooked the past year and decide which I’d like to cook again. I want to perfect them.
I still need to find a perfect egg salad recipe, and more specialty desserts.
I’ve recently been confronted by a few realities. First – my aversion to confrontation stems from many many years of having any voicing of my concerns met with a barrage of all of the things I have ever done wrong without ever examining the validity of my own concerns. That shit sneaks up on you and is pretty tough to get rid of. It hit me the other day as I was planning to confront someone. Practicing what I would say so as to ensure I was as passive as possible in my approach, and picking through all of my behavior to ensure my grievance had merit and wasn’t counterbalanced by some equal and opposite behavior that might possibly be brought up to me in retaliation.
What’s most laughable about all of this was my concern was very specific and incredibly valid, not to mention benign.
The second thing I have confronted…slowly over the course of a few months…is my inability to repair some things and my knowledge that confrontation doesn’t always bring relief. Sometimes confronting people who have wronged you only makes the wrong more painful. If I am the one who has been wronged, the only control I have in the situation is to not bring additional pain on myself. There is a certain confrontation I had on this subject many years ago, and from it, I learned there are limits to the usefulness of seeking answers from people who are vested in concealment. It sucks, but it’s reality.
So, I’m carrying some heavy shit lately, but no more so than most people…far less than many. I just am. It’s what I’m doing right now, in between the gardening and the chicken tending and the kid-rearing and the tech supporting and the artwork attempting and wordsmithing. In between the living, there is more life.
The other day I woke up and realized that I have very nearly fulfilled my biological imperative. My brain was spinning. What is the purpose of life? I was asking myself in my dreaming to wakefulness. I answered “You have already fulfilled your purpose, now do your best to enjoy it.”
And I can’t help but re-re-re-re-re-quoting (ad nauseum) one of the things punk rock taught me (which was surely ripped from Buddhism) – “Strive to survive, causing the least suffering possible.”
I don’t think that’s such a bad motto to live by. Further reinforcing a) punk rock taught me the most important lessons in life and b) punk rock is universal and timeless.
I glare at me, menacingly
Return my own glare with pbt tongue
And we both
Dissolve into giggles.
Tonight I realized that I had forgotten that walks are about more than exercise. I need to not forget that again. Walks are necessary. As often as possible and as long as possible.
Dear me: it might be difficult to get started after spending all day sitting and empathizing with people while solving various technology-related puzzles all day, but trust me – at least 20 minutes of walking, please. It’s worth it. You won’t regret it. Love, Me.
The secret, I think, is to create a ritual.
In addition to my annual goals, I have monthly and weekly goals and repeating tasks. My friend Kate made me realize I’ve been doing this forever. Talking about my time budget.
It’s funny – being in one place and knowing people for a long time. Lately I’ve been paying attention to how I used to spend my time. Years ago, I actually spent most of my spare time playing the Sims. I also remember that period of my life when it was no big deal to post several well-thought-out blog posts a day. Further back, I remember spending hours and hours of my time cataloging my vinyl and cassette tape collection. Even mixtapes. I actually made cross-referenced index cards and organized my tapes so I could easily find that one tape that had that particular World Of Pooh song on it. It was insane, but I found time for it.
Those things seemed as important then as spending entire days in the garden does now. I’m a little biased towards the spending entire days in the garden, however.
Even still, I remember just last year around this time, I was spending a couple of hours every night sitting outside in the cool air, just listening to music and thinking. That was nice, too.
Looking back – I was content with all of these things. None of them felt like a waste of time in the moment. I’ve always been fortunate in that I appear to be magnetically attracted to contentment in life, and am thankful for that privilege, in spite of occasional obstacles.
I wonder what I’ll be spending my time on 5 years from now.