I was supposed to be posting all my grand plans for 2009, but it appears... I have none.
Well, that's not exactly true. I do, but I'm having a hard time shedding this really heavy cloak of mental chaos enough to articulate it. I've started this post about six or seven times, and seem never be able to finish. Everything I write seems either trite, or inauthentic or just plain daffy.
I think the problem is the part about making plans. Plans are a big lie, because they imply that somehow you have control over anything, when truly, we have control over very, very little. It's that "LifeWithACapitalL" that keeps throwing a monkey wrench into the whole affair. You make a plan, you figure out how to achieve it, then Life comes in in the most capricious, arbitrary way and screws things up royal. People get old and die. People die without getting old. People you love don't love you back. People you love that love you have to go lead lives you can't lead with them and so, leave you. Hearts break and mend. Jobs end. New ones begin. And you are left with your plans, especially the ones that included the people and the jobs and the now-broken hearts, dangling by a thread, with no hope that they will ever be implemented. So, it seems to me that making plans is definitely so "last year."
This year it isn't going to be about what I'm going to do, but what I want. What do I really, really want? And the answer, it seems, falls into two categories: Short term and long term.
Okay, in the short term... I want to be ready to leave for the Flyaway terminal, so I can catch my bus to LAX, and my plane to Hawaii. I want to have a great time, take some fabulous pictures, see a couple of really spectacular sunsets, and visit with some folks I really care about. Then I want to come home, unpack, and have the first serious workout with my trainer. Then, a few days after that, I want to take the train to Carpinteria, see Pacifica, talk to some faculty, and decide if I really, really want to apply for a five-year program that would end with me having a PhD. ("Dr. Sowards. Paging Dr. Sowards.")
Long term wants include wanting to be healthy and comfortable in my own skin again. I want to look in the mirror and recognize me, the way I did in the spring of 2003. I want to be strong. I want to be able to dance again. I want to sing something wonderful again, and not think for a moment about how I look in whatever I'm wearing. I want to really accept myself, and not think for a second about what others thinks about me. I want to stop making friends with people who are incredibly high-maintenance and make me feel wrong all the time.
I want to finally figure out whether I'm alone because I like it, or because the alternative is "sleeping with the enemy". In the past, living with another adult in the house was tantamount to to extending an invitation to someone to come on in and treat you badly. "Please, call me names." "By all means, feel free to let me know how disappointing I am to you." "Oh, and while you're at it, why don't you toss in a couple of adjectives like 'worthless' and 'useless', just so no stone is left unturned." And yet, I'm pretty sure that everyone doesn't have that experience. I'm pretty sure that most of my married friends have lovely husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends and life partners who don't make them feel that way. I'm pretty sure that, while not entirely unique, my experience in this area is limited to a handful of experiences that don't necessarily apply to most other experiences. Other experiences are possible. That being said, am I prepared to risk it? Do I want that experience with enough vigor that I'm prepared to do what's required to allow it to happen?
Good question. If you figure it out, let me know, because frankly, I'm stumped.
Another long-term want is travel. I want to go places. Maui is nice, but I'm talking real travel. I want to go to Italy in 2010, and take travel writing seminar for two weeks in Tuscany. I want to see my English friends again (though I guess I should ask them whether they're really that anxious to see me---I'm only assuming that my charm and allure is irresistible to them). I think I might want to live in England some day, which is why the PhD might come in handy (higher degrees make getting categorized as a "specialized worker" easier). I might want to own another horse.
I want to find a new place to live, so I can be with my kid under the same roof again. I want to get a dog. I want to figure out how to accept myself completely, without feeling that I ought to be comforting, nurturing, counseling, coddling in order to be useful and indispensable. That's not anyone else's doing but mine. I want to never find myself in a situation again where I love someone who clearly could never love me back. I'm pretty sure there is at least one worthy man out there who isn't only interested in the twenty-two year old, size 4, eye-candy trophy girls; I just haven't met him yet. (This may require moving out of Los Angeles county, as even men who aren't in the industry are infected with this particular virus.)
I want to be happy being me, exactly as I am, without once thinking that, if I were only someone else, I'd be enough. This one is tough, because I'm not sure really what it feels like. I think this particular want is at the heart of my chaos. After all, if all you're used to is life on Mars, the newness of the Earth's gravity can really throw you for a loop. I'm Valentine Michael Smith, just landed from Mars, thinking entirely like a Martian, and having to learn what it means to be human. There is much to grok about your strange ways, Earthlings. Much to grok, indeed.
So, thought it is not a list, but rather a non-list, it is all I have to offer for 2009. Perhaps I should have written it after I returned from Hawaii. My mind might have been clearer. My thoughts sharper and more cogent. But I doubt it. This is what I am today, and today, it's enough. More than enough really. It's pretty good.
Happy Rest-of-the-New-Year. See you all when I get back.
P.S. The artwork is a fractal I did a couple of weeks ago, entitled "Mixed Blessings."