What do you think of New Year's resolutions?
I'd never put much stock in them . . . I figured that if you really wanted to do something, then you'd do it . . . Of course, the catch is that I don't actually get down to doing much . . . But I didn't realise that until after I made my first New Year's resolution since childhood and challenged myself to stick to it.
My 2013 began, as a great many of the inspired initiatives of the twenty-first century will prove to have begun, with a Cracked.com column . . .
Let's say that the person you love the most has just been shot. He or she is lying in the street, bleeding and screaming. A guy rushes up and says, "Step aside." He looks over your loved one's bullet wound and pulls out a pocket knife--he's going to operate right there in the street.
"OK, which one is the injured one?"
You ask, "Are you a doctor?"
The guy says, "No."
You say, "But you know what you're doing, right? You're an old Army medic, or ..."
At this point the guy becomes annoyed. He tells you that he is a nice guy, he is honest, he is always on time. He tells you that he is a great son to his mother and has a rich life full of fulfilling hobbies, and he boasts that he never uses foul language.
Confused, you say, "How does any of that fucking matter when my (wife/husband/best friend/parent) is lying here bleeding! I need somebody who knows how to operate on bullet wounds! Can you do that or not?!?"
Now the man becomes agitated--why are you being shallow and selfish? Do you not care about any of his other good qualities? Didn't you just hear him say that he always remembers his girlfriend's birthday? In light of all of the good things he does, does it really matter if he knows how to perform surgery?
In that panicked moment, you will take your bloody hands and shake him by the shoulders, screaming, "Yes, I'm saying that none of that other shit matters, because in this specific situation, I just need somebody who can stop the bleeding, you crazy fucking asshole."
Read the rest of 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person
I didn't censor the profanity, as I normally do, because I love the writing so much. Cracked.com's snark is matched only by its intelligence; it's intelligence masked only by its snark. (I wish I could be as brilliant as that someday.)
Having read the whole thing (as you ought to as well), I started wondering what value I could possibly offer to the world . . . and well, the list came up embarrassingly short. =S
You could say that my New Year's resolution is, in six words, "To be useful to the world." But I prefer the line from the Glengarry Glenn Ross speech referenced in the column: "You want to work here? Close." Yes, I want to work in this world. Yes, I will close.
And that is the end of the first chapter in the chain of reasoning.
The second chapter opens with a visit to The Last Psychiatrist, also known as "Alone."
I've just surfaced from a three-week long immersion in his posts--and yes, I know that there's baptismal imagery in that line. His point, in a nutshell, is that you should never define yourself by what you believe, but always by what you do.
Being on YouTube, having a blog, having an iPod, being on MySpace--all of these things are self-validating, they allow that illusion that is so important to narcissists: that we are the main characters in a movie. Not that we're the best, or the good guys, but the main characters. That everyone around us is supporting cast; the funny friend, the crazy ex, the neurotic mother, the egotistical date, etc. That makes reminders of our insignificance even more infuriating.
Take a look at the photos in the Time article: a DJ, a punk rocker, a guy in dreadlocks, a kid dancing with headphones, a guy singing into a mic, a hot chick taking a photo of herself--none of these people could ever be "Person of the Year." They barely have identities outside of their image. (And observe how so many are defined through music they listen to.) They must be defined by something from without, like a tattoo . . .
Read the rest of Time's Person of the Year is Someone Who Doesn't Actually Matter
If he had been aware of the book blogosphere, that parenthetical insert in the second paragraph would have said: "And observe how so many are defined through books they read." These days, identity seems to mean no more than identification. Which brings me to my biggest issue with a lot of the books that are coming out these days . . .
Hasn't anyone else noticed the number of Super Special Protagonists who have a Destiny To Save The World? They find out that they are the incarnation of some legendary being . . . or the last in an ancient line of superheroes . . . or the fated mate of someone who has been waiting centuries to fall in love . . . basically someone whose amazing "powers" have lain dormant for all these years, unnoticed by the rest of the world, finally to awaken, through no effort at all by the wielder but just because that is what "powers" do . . . And of course, these heroes happen to be alive at The Most Critical Point In The History Of The Universe, so that all existence hinges on the course they choose to take. "Alone" would say that these books (and movies) are popular because they reflect the our own image of ourselves as . . . Super Special Protagonists.
And this is a problem inasmuch as we are not Super Special Protagonists--and inasmuch as our persisting in this delusion makes us channel more energy into keeping up the image than actually doing anything to deserve it. His favourite metaphor is "kung fu": no, you will not magically know kung fu when you suddenly need it; but yes, you should take a martial arts class and work hard at it, if kung fu is really what you want to know.
So that's what I'm doing now. In another six words, that would be: Working hard at my "kung fu."
They'll kick me out of this dojo if I don't close.
* * * * *
There are a whole bunch of other chapters in this chain--and no wonder. As Mark Twain may or may not have said, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Now I want to close everything, from a new language (Buongiorno! Mi chiamo Enbrethiliel!) to a toned body (Thank you, God, for Blogilates!).
Even random reading is lining up--synchronistically, like wandering stars. A few days ago, for instance, I found the article How to Learn Anything, whose section "How to Write a Personal Learning Plan" might as well have been titled "How to Write a Personal Closing Plan". The best part is the rule to set a deadline for yourself. Deadlines make projects real. (Take it from someone who has failed to meet 98% of the deadlines on her own blog. =P)
More recently, I read Sheila's latest blog post Goals and Word for 2013, in which she shares the fabulous idea of having a New Year's word. Sum up the theme of your whole year in a single word. Hers is seek; mine is . . . close.
But you already knew that. =)
And yes, I recommend, if you do this too, that your word be an action verb. Several years ago, "Alone" wrote a post that challenged his readers to describe themselves without using the word "am." I personally found it an interesting challenge. Now I want to spend the rest of 2013 adding more verbs to that description.
So what about you??? =D