The last week of the year is one of my favorite times. It’s filled with such a unique variety of feelings. There’s a lovely ahhhhh feeling as the world breathes a sigh of relief for having once again survived the holiday season. I also love the jumble of feelings that arise from reflecting back about what happened in my life and in the world over the past year, both the good and the bad. The media seems to be doing less and less of that, perhaps because life has speeded up so much we no longer have time for it. We can barely keep up with everything that’s happening right now. Who’s got time to think about last summer or even last week? Yet, I think it’s important to review how we did so we can set the direction we want to go in for the new year.
One of the best year-end feelings is that delicious anticipation of a brand new, crispy and unblemished year. If we’ve had a good past year, we may want to continue in the same direction, with perhaps just the tiniest bit of fiddling or refinement in what we’re doing. If we’ve struggled through the year, faced too many challenges or simply gone off track of what we really wanted to do, we can resolve to learn from what happened and make changes in our lives. We can set new priorities based on where we are and where we want to go.
Having something to look forward to is an essential part of life. Children do it naturally. Even young adults do it with relative ease. But it becomes even more important as we get older, when, ironically, we do the opposite and spend more time looking back on “the good old days” then we do looking forward to even better times. So we need to do it deliberately. We need to plan to do things that we can still get excited about.
I don’t generally make New Year’s Resolutions, per se, but I do think about what I’d like to do in the new year, the activities I’d like to do more of and the ones I’d like to do less of or give up entirely. Then I choose what areas I’d like to focus on, rather than trying to come up with specific resolutions, because setting concrete goals is mostly just to help people keep score. Since I’m lucky if I accomplish even a tenth of what I’d like to do, I’d rather not be faced with any exact numbers. Keeping a tally would make my life look more like a series of failures than successes.
This past year my three main priorities were continuing my clutter-reducing efforts, catching up on some of the maintenance I had let slide the previous year, and working on the sequel to my book. Of course, health (physical and mental) is always on the list; it’s only the particular aspect that changes. For 2012, it was simply to survive, especially considering the world was supposed to end.
Clutter reduction was wildly successful. That is, I’m convinced I managed to get rid of more stuff than I acquired. Or else I’ve figured out how to delude myself into thinking I’m getting better at letting stuff go. Either way counts as a success. Maintenance wise, I probably broke even. I caught up on some things but fell behind with others. I did, however, reduce future maintenance by getting rid of two fruit trees and an unruly evergreen.
That leaves my creative aspirations for the past year. Sigh. The best I can say about those is that I did spend a lot of time thinking about the sequel, planning it out in my mind, and coming up with new and better ideas for it. But the truth is, I replaced most of my creative activities with Chris Isaak adventures. And I have no regrets at all about doing that. My memories of 2012 will forever define it as a “Chris Isaak” year, with both amazing highs and challenging lows.
I do feel that everything that happened in 2012 has positioned me well for expanding my creative endeavors in 2013. So I have great hopes of finally tackling the sequel to my book. I would also like to do a little cartooning, even though I’ve yet to master the art of drawing a stick figure. Then there are another dozen projects I’d love to try—everything from creating a humorous YouTube video to publishing an online magazine (a special edition filled with creative stuff). And I always have a multitude of music-related ideas clanging around in the back of my mind, none of which I have any real knowledge of or natural aptitude for, which means they generally remain as nothing more than intriguing possibilities. Still, there’s no telling when I might suddenly become inspired to pursue one of them.
Those are pretty big dreams for 2013. In fact, there’s enough to keep me busy for several years. Everything else on my list feels less important. Sure, I’d like to break even once again on my maintenance and continue to make at least a little progress at reducing my clutter and simplifying the routine of my life. And instead of just surviving, I’m shooting for more moments of happiness and appreciation for all that I have. Discovering some new thought-provoking books would be a real bonus. I’ve been in a slump lately when it comes to picking books and can’t find any to get excited about or recommend to others. But I’d like my main focus to be on creativity.
There, it’s done. The old year has been mulled over. Priorities have been set for the new year. My life is all neat and tidy—for this one day, at least. And it’s such a good feeling, this sense of completion and of being ready for what comes next. So look out 2013. Here I come.