I woke up this morning with a curiously promising feeling about the year to come. I've been thinking about what I'm going to do to make it a good year, since feelings alone don't guarantee anything.
The first thing is to be a better father. I'll make a point of writing to Grace and Rachel each week, the way I used to. Somehow that slipped in the last year. And I'll skype with them more too. I love the girls - nobody could doubt that. But love needs to take concrete form or it's nothing at all. Facta non verba.
I'm going to write more this year, with an eye to publishing. I don't care if it's an essay in the New York Times or a short letter to the Bullamakanka Gazette. Writing is the only form of art I was drawn to, and it's also one of the few skills I have. If I can develop myself as a writer, I will.
|Image from here|
The next thing is to be a better reader. Last night I finished the last of nearly two years' backlog of shooting magazines, law journals, museum journals and more besides. And now it's time to get into some proper reading - Hemingway, and Chekhov, and Marlowe. Things to build up my brain and my vocabulary and style. One can't get good things out of a brain if one isn't putting good things into it.
I was delighted to find last night that my weight has now dropped below the 80kgs mark - I'm on 79.5 kgs. I didn't quite make the 75kgs that was my goal for 31 December 2016, but I got so close I'm calling it a win. I'll be at 75 soon enough!
Also on the health note, I want to set a goal of a marquee race. I've said a few times that I think my knees will cope with one more marathon. Usually I think that if I'm going to destroy those joints once and for all, I want it to be doing something incredible, like the Pyongyang Marathon or the New Caledonia Marathon. But then I think, maybe I should shoot the moon and try something that will offer me a sliver of immortality, like the Marathon des Sables. Of course, the cost of doing something like this is a major factor, so my project is to settle on a goal and create a plan to make it happen.
A related subject is the health of the squidgy grey-pink thing inside my skull. I have a bad habit of cursing myself out inside my head, telling myself that I'm useless and stupid and a vile non-human and everyone would be happy if I were dead and maybe I should go walk in front of a train and so on. Mostly it's just words uttered on reflex; occasionally it isn't. Either way, it's unhealthy. So, I'm going to break that habit this year. I thought of wearing a rubber band around my wrist as a reminder, like the gambling addicts do, but that seems a little ostentatious. Instead I'll wear my saint's medal consistently and make a point of touching the chain or the medal from time to time to keep me mindful. The saint on the medal is St Stephen, and he's kind of fitting: he wasn't a man given to doubt! (Acts 6:8-7:60). I should say that including this one on my list was inspired by my friend Stephanie whose New Year Facebook post was one of the first I saw this morning!
A further related subject is negativity and toxic people. I think it's time I purged some of that from my life, or at least from my social media. Where people bring me down but I can't decently disconnect from them on Facebook, I can at least mute them and downgrade them to acquaintances. I've also had the bad habit of reading (or listening on the radio to) savagely anti-Catholic material with a kind of horrified fascination. Why? I mean, why am I voluntarily reading something that's meant to gall me? So that's another habit I'm going to break. Life is too short, and the world is too full of better things.
Finally, I want to spend more time absorbing beautiful things. I'm very fond of statuary and etchings and the like that leave something to the imagination, like the rongorongo tablets or "The Starving of Saqqara". Where it's clear a person meant to share something in their work, but it's not clear what, one's mind works even harder to connect with them.
For the same reason, I want to absorb more performing arts, like music and dance and theatre, where the impermanence of the art form makes the communication more vital and urgent. These art forms, I think, bring us closer to being fully human.
I think that all of these things will make my life better. Moreover, I think they'll clear some of the hobbles I put on my own ankles. The more debris I clear from myself, the more I will achieve with my life.
Let the games begin!