a little less conversation, a little more action

I don’t really like New Year’s resolutions because they’re such a ritual. As such, the same thing always happens: you make them, so earnestly, but don’t follow through past January 10th. If I make something as a resolution, it’s pretty much a death sentence to that idea — it will never happen. It’s a law of physics or something. So I’m not going to make any of those “exercise every day,” “make weekly lists of what I’m grateful for” kinds of resolutions this year.

Instead I’m going to focus on some of those little, silly things, the ones we mean to do but always slip through the cracks. Why do we make it so hard for ourselves to do those things we want most?

1. listen to more Elvis. Sinatra too. Everyone could use a little more of the classics in their life, I think. And I actually know a bit about Elvis, having researched him for various things back in college, but I never actually listened to much of his music. Talk about having things backwards — it’s time to get them right-side-out. I also recently found out I’m only 2 degrees of separation away from him, so like a moth to the flame of celebrity, here I go.

2. read the whole articles in magazines, instead of just skimming the pictures and saying I’ll come back to them. Because really that’s just laziness to the extreme.

3. research. I often come across things, reading or watching a film or in a museum, and I think to myself that I should really look into learning more about it. Well I really think I should write those things down and actually get to the reading up part. Because I can’t deny it, there is an insatiable geek inside of me that loves becoming quietly fascinated with new information.

4. learn graphic design. I’m not putting this on any kind of time-table, it’s just something I want to learn more about at some point, I think it could come in handy in anything I end up doing. I should probably start by having a notebook to collect examples of design that I like, so I can start to figure out what my style is.

5. sew, design, and make patterns more often. I think I put this off because I can get lost for hours in it, consumed by the mix of mathematics, precision and aesthetics. It keeps my mind sharp, my hands busy, and keeps me singing along to the old records I play as I work. They say that when you find something you love, it doesn’t feel like work; and that’s how I feel about this. And at the end of the afternoon you have something to show for it, even if it comes with pin-pricked fingers.

My only real resolution, the bigger-picture one, is insanely simple, and maybe at odds with what I wrote last week: Be nice.

These plain vanilla words came to me a few days ago from a conversation with my mother about one of her oldest friends, someone I remember being around my whole life. And she is always nice, kind. Surprisingly so. We’re used to using “nice” as a throwaway adjective, not great, not bad, just neutral. But to truly be nice to someone, to be kind and hospitable to your friends and strangers, even when it takes you a little out of your way, is a sadly rare virtue. To ask people about themselves and really care; to remember those details when you meet again. We all remember the moments when someone has been truly kind to us. So I’m going to try to make those moments more.

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2 responses to “a little less conversation, a little more action

  1. Happy New Year!

    I agree with you about resolutions. I think we get such a wave of invincibility and aim so high that we destine ourselves for quick failure. I think it’s a good idea to focus on the littler, more idiosyncratic, and yet meaningful things and changes.

  2. 1) Haha, I’m on board with the Sinatra, but the Elvis? I don’t get it. Maybe try Johnny Cash instead. Similar vein, and in my opinion more deep and varied.

    3) Oh me too. I wikipedia anything that stokes me interest (which is a lot) but often that is enough to sate my curiosity. I should be prepared to go a bit deeper sometimes.

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