Is there anything so great in this world as a shower? I doubt it. There is something ineffable about the way it focuses one’s mind and thinking, at least sometimes, that makes it the single most consistent source of inspiration, resolution, and clarity that I have access to. You want to go do a cool groundbreaking psychological study? Attach electrodes to the brain and see what channels and conduits open and close as said head is doused by hot water, shampoo, and soap. But for all the collateral electrocution, you’d come up with some pretty amazing results.
In any event, I came to Albuquerque for nigh on a month largely to get a reset on my life. To try to figure out what the swath of damage was from 2010 and to determine what, if any, resolution I could make for 2011. Not resolutions, mind you, necessarily, because although I appreciate the tradition, the whole thing is a little contrived and probably more directional than I could count on myself to be on this trip. But some kind of decision, or decisions, some kind of purpose or at least a path to try to find it.
It’s frequently been a tough trip, as I’ve found Albuquerque to be haunted by memories old and older. Much time was logged before friends arrived and their arrival has not heralded the automatic good times that such encounters used to. Which is not to say that I’ve been miserable or even largely unhappy, nor that others have made me feel that way. Much of my time here has been wonderful and I’ve found my friends and family to mostly be powerful aids in my effort to establish an interest in the future. Or at least to share a meal or a game with, even if it isn’t quite up to pre-2010 standards in my own beleaguered soul. But up until the shower this early afternoon, nothing had really resolved itself. Nothing was funneling or folding toward some purposeful outcome, let alone a set of them. I’ve read a lot, thought a lot, talked a lot, cried a lot, seen more than a few movies. All minor little influences to be sure, but it took falling water to put it all together.
How long any of this will last remains to be seen. It seems literarily contrived in the extreme that the path for the next few months snapped together like the proverbial mosaic gone groutless in the waning hours of the year, with less than twelve to go before a deliriously celebrated transition to the next. The next that, please God, has to be better than this one, though admittedly 2010 was not without accomplishments. Certainly in spite of the disastrous middle times between the accomplishments, finishing my third novel and leading Rutgers debate to a fourth ranking in the nation are not to be trifled with. Indeed, had my marriage persisted, this year could be counted perhaps among my five best, especially since that means it also would have involved our scheduled trip to Egypt. In any case, contrived-seeming or not, temporary wishful thinking or otherwise, a list of directions for the coming annum has sprung up in my head amidst the steamy confines of tile and glass block.
I present them here for the same reason that people have listed such things for time immemorial. Indeed, this blog itself could be considered one gigantic New Year’s Resolution machine, applied evenly to every day or thought or perspective to usher in the accountability and consistency required of making public declarations to any sort of audience. I can resolve to do all kinds of things every minute and the last six months have been aswirl with just that: emotional and mental lines in the sand that were constantly erased and redrawn, moved and altered, bent and broken, till all that was left was a pile of overwrought pre-glass. Now it’s time to apply some heat and pressure, to try to cobble the tiny grains of windblown wreckage into something useful, solid, even stable. Fragile and vulnerable, of course, as all glass is, but at least tangible and visible to the naked eye as something other than infinitesimal fragments.
1. I will not be seeking a part-time job upon my return to New Jersey in January.
2. Instead, I will spend that time ramping up creative pursuits of many stripes as though this time were deliberately spent away from day jobs like 2009-2010. Among these will be escalating the visibility and promotional potential of The Blue Pyramid, with new quizzes and especially the long discussed but still unfulfilled Facebook integration.
3. I will also aggressively ramp up the pursuit of representation/publication for American Dream On and The Best of All Possible Worlds.
4. Finally on this creative front, I will commence work on my fourth novel. Soon after returning to Jersey, I will set a deadline for it as with the past three novels and I will finish the book by the deadline, taking this process just as seriously as the prior ones. The novel has a working title already, but it will be known publicly as Project X for the time being.
5. I will obviously fulfill the remainder of my commitment to the Rutgers debate team, attending every tournament this year as previously planned.
6. Unless significant reasons to stay emerge, I will plan on moving West in the summer of 2011. I will spend time scouting out cities and possibilities, with few to no places in the western thirteen states ruled out. I will plan to return to conventional full-time employment for the year starting in fall 2011, possibly even multiple jobs.
7. Aside from the above, I will not put pressure on myself to do or be or pursue anything else. Which is not to say that I might not also find other uses of my time or energy, but I will keep myself from beating up on myself about any shortcomings outside of fulfillment of the above six pursuits. While I will try to stick to a budget, I will not worry about money, because this plan is financially sustainable. While I will try to volunteer some, I will not berate myself for prioritizing creative pursuits over volunteer time. While I will try to read a great deal, I will not get on my own case if I spend more time playing video games. As long as nothing else interferes with the above goals, it’s fair game.
It doesn’t look like much, now that I have it up there, and a good bit of it was probably already the gameplan in one form or another. But it feels like an incredible relief to have it up and out there, especially #7. I’ve spent enough time in the last half-year contemplating the brink of my own self-destruction that there’s simply no point in not making sweeping decisions to improve the quality and purpose of my own life. I believe that the only really fulfilling aspect of the human mind is the pursuit of creativity. The soul may be fed by love, however painful that seems to be, and even efforts to help others, which all good creative pursuits also are. But the mind requires creativity and the only thing I really value or trust about myself at this point is my mind. If I don’t focus on that, in finding my way back to feeling okay through maximizing those efforts and those pursuits at the detriment of financial concerns or emotional self-flagellation, then not only will I not make it, but there will be no point to making it. I’m in a long, ongoing argument with myself about the value of getting through this. I must arm myself with all the best reasons to go forward.
2010, no one will miss you. Please see yourself out.