A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Read/Do/Be All the Things!

You've got to admire my consistency: I'm 100% on New Year's Resolutions this year. That is, 100% unsuccessful. Some of them I don't even remember, which is a sure sign they are unfulfilled. I started 2014 with grand plans to "make a difference" and be a better person, and don't feel like I did any of it last year. And yet, I'm planning on making New Year's Resolutions again this year. Call me an eternal optimist, but I have a much better chance of improving myself if I make concrete goals than if I have an ineffable future "aspiration."

Is it a coincidence that I just typed gaol (jail) instead of goal? Sometimes goals can fence us in, but I think they represent a really hopeful view of the future, because a goal posits that we have the ability to change and become better. Goals present us with the vision of what we want to be. There's a fresh start and in a way that's exhilarating. It's much better than being paralyzed by your weaknesses.

Of course, goals are good if they lead us to greater vistas of knowledge and awareness, but they're bad when they become checklists that determine our self-worth if completed. As a wise woman once said: "Goals are stars to steer by, not sticks to beat ourselves with." Put another way, goals aren't actually about goals, they're about what the goals are leading us towards - a better and more abundant life filled with good things.

Lately for some reason I have been thinking of Sisyphus (despite the fact that I don't think I can pronounce his name correctly - hence the thinking and not the saying). Sisyphus, a character in Greek mythology, was doomed to roll a large bolder up a hill and then eternally have that bolder roll back down the hill. Kind of the definition of fruitless and pointless endeavors. Sometimes my New Year's Resolutions seem Sisyphean, especially when I realize that I am eternally rolling the same boulders up the same hills year after year. Yet, maybe that is the point. 

As an example, I usually want to spend more time reading as one of my New Year's resolutions. A few nights ago, I spent about four hours catching up on blog reading - friends' blogs, recipe blogs, Mormon blogs, news blogs, etc. For the most part, I skimmed headlines and first paragraphs, weighing in the balance whether I wanted to read the post, skip it, or save it for later. Inevitably, those posts I did read lead me to other sources and additional items for my reading/listening list. An article about tax policy lead to additional detailed statistics on poverty in America. A post about Christmas books lead to new Christmas music I want to download. Various posts on great women authors lead me to want to read more of their books and poems and life stories. 

I simply want to READ ALL THE THINGS (except maybe Ernest Hemingway), but there isn't time. Even if I devoted every waking moment not spent at work to listening to or reading books and articles, I wouldn't ever "arrive" at the destination of having read everything I want to read. So maybe the goal of reading isn't about finishing, but enjoying the journey - one that includes great literature, poetry, well written news coverage, simple updates on my friends' lives, and re-reading Jane Austen (again). There is so much to enjoy about life, and I need MORE joy, reading, fun, charity, friends, outdoors time, and family in my life in 2015, along with LESS stress, worry, self-pity, selfishness, time spent at the office, and stubbornness.

I love reading because when I read, I start making phenomenal brain connections (some of which connect politics with religion which I then proceed to poorly explain on this blog!). Other goals remind me of my ability to do hard things and help me develop into a better person. And that, dear readers, is why I keep rolling my boulders up my hills - I hope that in the journey I will see some magnificent sights from the hilltop, and develop my (emotional/physical/intellectual/spiritual) muscles. In the journey, is joy: real and tangible and hard-fought, all at the same time.

So, here are (some of) my New Year's Resolutions for 2015.  What are your resolutions?

Spiritual: Study scriptures and pray daily.
Mental: Read at least 12 new books this year.
Physical: Gym time four times a week, and an outdoor nature walk/bike ride at least once a month.
Social: Travel internationally with a friend.


  1. Hear hear! And this post reminds me of this classic from NPR. Money quote: "It's sad [that we'll never READ ALL THE THINGS], but it's also ... great, really. Imagine if you'd seen everything good, or if you knew about everything good. Imagine if you really got to all the recordings and books and movies you're "supposed to see." Imagine you got through everybody's list, until everything you hadn't read didn't really need reading. That would imply that all the cultural value the world has managed to produce since a glob of primordial ooze first picked up a violin is so tiny and insignificant that a single human being can gobble all of it in one lifetime. That would make us failures, I think." :)

    My resolutions are to exercise and read more. And stay off facebook (the mechanism for achieving the others).

  2. D'oh! Forgot the link: http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2011/04/21/135508305/the-sad-beautiful-fact-that-were-all-going-to-miss-almost-everything