Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End of Year Summations

At the end of our lives, they say we get judged.
At the end of each year, we have a tendency to sum up ourselves . . . kind of:

       Here's what I accomplished this year.  Here's what I didn't.  
       Here's what I'm going to/ not going to/  do next year.

Mostly, though, some of us just keep repeating the same old patterns.

It was interesting looking at what some fellow bloggers posted along the line of end-of-year personal summations.  Some had to do with announcement of change of habits (mainly to do with creativity:  I'm going to stop doing this; I'm now going to start doing this, etc.)  The mere mention caused me to reflect on what things I've elected to continue doing, and which things I feel most need changed.

One artist blogger  tells us he no longer feels like painting. Just like that.  Doesn't need it anymore--and it's mutual, he writes, likening it to a friendly divorce. Speed biking makes him happier.  Some things will always (always) make us happy.  But we sometimes have to take a break from even  them temporarily, to concentrate on something of more compelling interest.  It is not always temporary.  Nor always an Either/Or situation. But sometimes it is.

Some writer bloggers list the number and names of all the books they've read during the past year (one noting that 80 of them were written by men and 80 were written by women, disclosing his preference). (Sorry, ladies, it weren't you.)  :)  One writer blogger
reminds us of kitchen pantry 'culling' as a metaphor for assessing what's stored but forgotten and what needs to be discarded.  It's what we do at the beginning of each New Year, we take a look back and assess what we've accomplished (or neglected to), and declare our intentions for the coming year.

These such all led me to examine my own reading, writing and creativity in general during the past year, and in this imaginary scenario I see myself quietly slinking to the back of the Input/Output Judgement Line - the one where you're asked  "What have you learned?  What have you done?  How have you spent your time?"

I haven't kept track of the books I've read but I can tell you, sadly, they're nowhere near the number others report that they've read.  But I do read--constantly.  And I'm always writing something.  So I'm engaged in the process and have produced a certain quantity of stuff.   (Nice try, but what have you actually produced worth bragging about?  I query myself.) 

Voracious and prolific describe actions an Energizer bunny can relate to, in terms of stick-to-itiveness and unstoppability.  But that same energy can also manifest as frequent, instantaneous bursts of direction-turnings  elsewhere, with equally satisfying results.  Some might call this Distraction, because it takes you away from the self-programmed usual run track. What it's labeled is irrelevant, and disruption of  routine is sometimes a necessary wake-up call.  Bread can't stay fresh forever and sometimes you get tired of duplicating the same 'ol same 'ol.  Inspiration is needed.  This year has been a dam-burst of ideas, possibilities, new projects and plans, the mere thought of which has yanked me from certain customary, passive-type habitudes to more active redirection.  Not to say this may have been jumping the gun a bit, dreaming up more than I could handle or am equipped to effect, but this was an unforeseen change where a pattern kind of reversed itself.  A new window opened, I'm deciding to run with it. 

Try to take on too many new things and you can immediately get overwhelmed.  As to the question, what have I (so far) to show for it, that would depend, I suppose, on who this would be important to.  A lot of things one does never gets put out there, intentionally.. And what does is sometimes sporadic, off-the-cuff experimental type pieces as one tries to get better.  (In other words, 'practice.' )   Have I made progress?  Well, yes and no. Depends on which year, which project. 

The stuff I'm more inclined to share on a regular basis is work done by others.  I get real pleasure in discovering and sharing, for example, really good poetry - poets who've written poems I wish I had written - and am  appalled to realize it'll be soon be three years (THREE.YEARS!!!) (!!!)  since I've worked on Salamander Cove, except to tweak the design. That is one of the things that's going to change in the new year.  Look for more frequent postings of more poets' great poems!

One of the new time-takers that's graduated from mere dabbling into full-blown interest, has been researching.  A number of years ago friends asked me to help them find a new job, an apartment, or information about something.  This was pre-Googledom.  I  discovered I not only enjoyed it but apparently was good at it (so they tell me).  I loved the challenge and soon became hooked. It changed the way I deal with puzzles.

Congenital curiosity led me to begin fact-checking when something didn't make sense, which set the pattern, for I began noticing things I would normally not have noticed before, which is, as it's turned out, both a blessing and a curse.  Because I soon developed a real interest in, of all things, investigative journalism.  Some years ago I helped  with certain researches, which sharpened analytical skills.  Who knew, ha ha.  I do so poorly at math.  Scanning documents and pouring over reports, looking at 'wordings', tracing the history of something, noticing anomalies, contradictions, and  intentional obfuscation, led me to probe further, where I'd sometimes find  unrelated, but incredibly interesting 'other' information that proved even more intriguing. 

 You see where this is going, right?  It's like octopus tentacles, you wind up hopelessly entangled. But it did introduce me to fields I'd normally have little to no interest in (the financial field, contracts, legal transcripts, real estate transactions,  regulatory codes and all that boring stuff you avoid getting into because your eyes just start glazing over and you can't decipher the acronyms or understand the jargon.  Not that I do (understand it completely) but it's written in English and there are ways you can say (or not say) a thing which you can learn to spot when something should be there but isn't, or what is that suggests other than what is presented.  Sometimes it's absolutely blatent, and you wonder how nobody's noticed.  

Some people sit down and read a dictionary, the way others sit down to read a novel.  Bizarre as that sounds, it's all in how one relates to words on a page.  Understanding the jargon, decoding the meaning, exploring places one normally bypasses as a dead-end but from a different angle - what can I say, some people spend hours playing digital "complete-the-mission" skill-games on a tiny digital device or days positioning little cardboarded images together or solving difficult crossword puzzles.  I enjoy finding stuff and solving certain mysteries.  Unfortunately, it's taken time from other pleasurable pursuits, which are demanding equal time.  Plus it's probably ruining my eyes.

So, in sum,  there's not much to actually show for time spent this year on personal or selected creative projects.   There are just not enough hours in the day,  but that's no excuse.

My New Year's resolution this year is - to stop making New Year's resolutions.  Stop resolving to act, then revolving back to what went before;  start solving the problem and evolving, stop getting sucked into the whirlwind where you get so involved in something, you forget what day it is.  Change the damn pattern.  Perhaps I could advance a tad farther up the Input/Output Judgment line. Yeah. but stop explaining, Yabbit says.  Wrap it up already.

Happy New Year, all.  Let's all keep trekkin'.