A Nice, Easy Start to 2017

At the end of last year, I was screaming along with the likes of Oasis, Nirvana, and The Watchmen, while driving around in my car. With all of the windows rolled up, I didn’t care who could hear me or who was watching. The tendons in my neck would strain as I used the last of my breath to belt out the lyrics of songs that I’m so familiar with.

2017 has started less dramatically. I’ve been listening to artists like Sade, Boyz II Men, and PARTYNEXTDOOR, singing along with the chorus if I feel like it. I also opened a thousand-piece puzzle, I had bought while I was in Orillia, and poured the pieces out on my dining table. When I walk by, I might grab a handful of pieces and see if I can’t place them somewhere.

The end of 2016 went with beer and whisky, but 2017 is starting off with wine and bourbon.

I haven’t turned the ringer of my phone on since walking into school on the last Friday before the break, and I’ve been slowly pecking away at the few messages that I’ve received since. I turned off my alarm clock that same Friday night and haven’t gotten out of bed before 11 in the last ten days. Mind you, I haven’t gone to bed before 2 a.m., either.

I spent much of last week hurriedly trying to fit in the things that I wanted to do before the end of the year. I was typing away at my typewriter for hours. I was reading for leisure. I cooked a turkey on Christmas Day. I donated my Xbox to The Salvation Army – EB Games wouldn’t give me any money for it – because it was bugging me by just sitting there, next to my TV, doing nothing. I went to the dentist. I went looking for a dictionary at a Chapters, before deciding that I should use the free ones on the internet. I even managed to take myself out on the town a couple nights.

This week, though. Nothing. I spent New Year’s Eve sitting in my chair, with Riel, sipping on a beer. I left the house yesterday to pick up a pizza. Today, I went to get the case back on my watch positioned correctly. On my way home, I stopped at the Staples to pick up a planner for the year, which is still blank inside.

It’s true that everything has its Personal Legend, but one day that Personal Legend will be realized. So each thing has to transform itself into something better, and to acquire a new Personal Legend, until, someday, the Soul of the World becomes one thing only.

– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

It’s been a nice, slow start.

I’ve spent much of the break trying to figure out what I want to get out of 2017. I’ve written down the same list about three times, once with a pen, once on a typewriter, and once on my computer. Each time, I glean a little bit more from it. It’s been a repetitive exercise, but I’ve got little else to think about right now.

The list(s) feel(s) familiar to the lists I’ve put together in years passed. Truly, it’s kind of incredible to realise that my goals from one year to the next have changed so little. I thought I was making progress. My goals, however, are so general that it’s hard to determine success, let alone progress.

It’s a tired list:

  • Pay off debt and save money.
  • Read more.
  • Write more.
  • Be more physically active, if only to stave off your encroaching moobs.
  • Keep your apartment clean.

What the list should really read is: become a more interesting person, one who you don’t mind spending your time with.

But, somewhat seriously, I think that 2017 needs to be the year (like all those other years) that I finally take some stock in the things that I’m actually interested in. I’m hardly a selfless person, but I’m undeniably lazy. When it comes to pursuing my own interests, the best path is the easiest one. Which, with good reason, usually involves a nap. After nearly 34 years, it’s finally time to realise some of those dreams, no?

I easily distracted, as well. I won’t admit to how many times I’ve taken a break from writing this, but I do suffer from some sort of 21st-century-ADD. I was reading an actual book the other day, and I was surprised to find myself understanding it well enough to know that I needed to go back and read over a few things. It didn’t flash a notification at me or start ringing when my parents called. The only time I needed to swipe something was when I wanted to turn the page. The typewriter I bought a couple of weeks ago, too, is really interesting to write on because the only purpose it serves is writing. Of course, it’s got it’s own distractions, like waiting for correction fluid to dry (I bought a ribbon that should help this) or pushing a lever to create a line break, but it’s simple.

He had worked for an entire year to make a dream come true, and that dream, minute by minute, was becoming less important. Maybe because that wasn’t really his dream.

– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

In any case, if I’m being completely honest, my expectations for what I’ll achieve this year toward my personal goals are low. What I’d really like to get out of 2017 is an idea of what I really want out of my life.

See, things are starting to go well for me. It’s not that my life was ever rough, but my life is getting better, and I feel able to think about things with more of a sense that I’ll be able to obtain and maintain them. It’s been a good while since I’ve had this perspective on my life, if I ever did.

What’s troubling me, and what I’d like to wrestle with, are the things that I have long thought are the things that I want from my life. In the past couple of years, I’ve seen glimpses of these things, some of which I liked and others which I didn’t. What I didn’t do was try to understand them then, thinking that they were in line with where I thought I wanted my life to go.

I’ve surprised myself more than once with the way that I’ve dealt with certain situations. It’s not a perfect record – how could it be? – but it’s telling. I’ve been accepting of things that would’ve driven me crazy before or intolerant with things that I used to be patient with. I don’t know what’s happened.

I want 2017 to be a year that is quiet enough for me to think but busy enough to keep me engaged. The two aren’t wholly exclusive. In fact, they are likely closely linked. I want to come to know the lyrics of my song well enough that I feel a slight sense of embarrassment when I mess them up, even if no one is listening, but still sing along until the end.

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I wish you all a very happy new year and hope that all of your dreams come true.

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