2010 – 2011: Look Forward, Look Back

An 11th hour blizzard doused the life of this New Years Eve.

Bands couldn’t make it to town.  Movie nights are postponed.  Home gatherings are cancelled.  Most can’t extract their vehicle from the snow drifts, much less travel anywhere.  Even the liquor store recognized the hopelessness of peddling cheer tonight and closed for the evening.

Against the snow, I wrestled the -30 wind chill walking half a mile to my mom’s for dinner, cars weaving, spinning out, on the ice all around me.  Can’t say that was among my more brilliant notions.  Some have nicknamed me “Sasquatch” for my long hair and giant’s physique.  If they saw me tonight they might’ve changed the moniker to “Yeti.”  I probably resembled the ice monster from the Himalayas, bangs frozen, brows hoary with frost, skin changing some otherworldly purple shade.

I’m laying mummified in blankets right now, watching snow flurries by streetlight glow, trying to get warm.  The new year will probably be greeted with a cup of cider, some tunes, and typing away at this post.  The blizzard has wiped out chances of anything more interesting.

Seems a short time ago I was waiting on the fresh minted 2010 midnight, now the year’s already done, and we enter 2011.  I spent the first half of 2010 mostly lulling about, until the opportunity to return to college came in the summer.  From there, its been busyness, working toward a degree in Information Technology.  Some friends were made, others lost, yet I’ll save the minutiae of that for another time.

Reflecting on 2010, looking for themes, general directions; perseverance comes to fore.

Life will snare a person in painful vice grips sometimes.  It can be hard just to earn enough money to subsist.  The world at large, and the world outside your front door, are in constant flux.  People won’t always appreciate your talents, or give you a fair shot to prove yourself.  Some friends, some family, with us at the ringing in of last year, are gone by the coming of this one.  Human bonds are fleeting, and when not being dissolved by death,  are constantly wrecked by pride, by vanity, by lust for control.  Alot can trip a person. There’s many dead end alleys, go nowhere loops, to get lost and lose your head in.

And a person can holler, can submit, can cry, can beg to be left alone, yet no protestation will convince the hard times of life to let go their hold.  There will come obstacles when no one is there to help, and you will rise or you will fall by your own efforts.  A saving hand won’t drop a rope in every pitfall you stumble down.  Some, you’ll have to climb out of totally alone.

A person has to struggle, earn their way out of tough luck.  There’s no substitute for the blood, sweat and tears of your own desperation.  Giving up doesn’t cause problems to cease.  If you find yourself in a gutter, whining changes nothing.  A willingness to climb through your heartbreaks, through your sorrows, is all that will save you sometimes.  There will be disappointment, endure it without becoming bitter.  Let all the ways you’ve been let down register in your mind, just don’t let them sink further, to fester, in your heart.

In a word: persevere.  Seems I uttered that often to myself in 2010.  When relationships shipwrecked, jobs didn’t work out, when it seemed impossible to catch any sort of break.

“There is a glory in humiliation, a throne to be taken, a crown to win” says one of my favorite songs.  Even in your lowest hour, comport yourself with dignity.  What is on top, will eventually fall, and if you find yourself on the bottom rung, your star will eventually ascend.  There’s a glory in not laying down in defeat, continuing to fight however weary, battered, and broken you feel.  The dispossessed can win the crown, despots can be knocked from power.

Moving on.

A couple other things I learned in 2010, no particular order, no arbitrary number, just whatever comes to mind:

1.)  Good writing is three quarters discipline, one quarter talent.  I’ve coasted so far on talent and neglected the greater portion of the equation.  If I’m ever to jump the chasm between intermediate and professional levels, I’ll need to develop myself in the discipline of writing.

2.)  If I’m honest with myself, I know almost nothing of grammar.  I blunder my way through organizing an essay.  The styles I employ are cobbled from trial and error, rather than knowledge of a subject studied closely.  I’ve next to no formal training, never had anyone guide me, or help me improve.  This is both depressing and inspiring.  On one hand, I don’t come close to meeting my potential.  On the other, there’s so many ways I can become sharper, and I’d rather be working toward my prime, than already past it.

3.)  FADGCD is a wonderful guitar tuning. Many eerie, ethereal combinations can be plucked, if you use the 1st 2nd and 6th string primarily as ghost notes.  A rough draft composition of my own in this tuning.  Excuse the $5 mic recording.  I’m sorry I couldn’t get the vocals in properly, its just an instrumental.  Yet aside from the cheap recording and bare bones quality, I was decently proud of it, and the directions it could take.

4.)  If a person expresses themselves creatively, through art, through writing, through music, self disclosure happens, something of oneself is out in public.  Obvious, right?  Well, it wasn’t to me, until recently.  I’m a private person.  I prefer anonymity to the spotlight.  So the accusation of obscurity, obliqueness in my writing, didn’t come as a surprise.  To kick back and self analyze a moment, I think abstraction and metaphor have been methods by which I place a screen between myself and whoever is reading.  I don’t enjoy being “seen,” and purposefully twist paths, amplify surreality, speak in riddles, to avoid it.  This is the wrong approach to take.

5.)  Don’t give up on people too easily.  “Faithless is he says farewell when the road darkens” said Tolkien, and you’ll always be surprised who leaves when you need them most.  At the same time, its always just as much a surprise who will stand beside you, the people you least expect will be there when you least anticipate.  Make allowance for human flaws and cravings.  Be open, without being too exposed.  Loyal, without becoming unhealthily attached.

6.)  Want to be good at anything?  Practice.  There’s no substitute for hard work, nothing can replace or shortcut it.  Whatever your passions, don’t allow them to sit on the shelf for long.  Vigilantly, constantly pursue the arts, the crafts, the studies, the projects, you find most engaging.  This seems to be the way to fulfillment: do what you love, enough that you excel at it, and accomplish something with it.

7.)  Don’t waste time worrying about the future.  Especially never feel doomed because of the future.  Because the future doesn’t exist.  Any idea you have of the future is likely mere imaginings, unbound to reality.  Think back to last year.  Did you then, predict the twists and turns, all the events, all the developments your life would see?  No, you are no auger of fortunes, and probably any conception you had of how the year would be was highly off mark.  Think back to five years ago.  Did you then envision the person you are today, did you foresee all the circumstances, all the people who came and left, all the places you found yourself?  Likely you did not.  The reality of the future will come, and you should observe by reflecting on your past speculations, that the future is beyond your imagining, beyond anything you can conceive, beyond anything you can predict.  Make the most of right now, this very moment, this day, to better yourself, become someone you yourself could respect.  Never worry about what hasn’t, and certainly isn’t destined, to come to pass.

Titled this a look forward, but turns out there’s relatively little to say here…

I’m gonna continue toward gaining my Information Technology degree.  I’m going to keep writing, on a quest to someday be decent at it.  And hopefully, I may see a few friends in 2011.  There are places I’d like to go, lands I’d like to travel, cultures I’d love to visit and learn about, but more than any of that, there are people I want to see again.  I’d trade the most exotic vacation in a faraway land for one modest evening with a good friend I haven’t seen in many seasons.


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