Every New Year I come up with a motto that sets the tone for the year ahead. Or at least I hope it does. If I'm lucky, the motto/phrase/slogan just sort of naturally emerges based upon a theme that keeps rearing its head. Like last year's motto -- "Patience." Short, simple, sweet and based upon the previous year's never ending anxieties over "when will it happen for me?" And that "it" was everything - love, marriage, career, stability. It just felt like all I did was strive but never achieved a thing. That kind of attitude would wear anyone down, including me.
So I tried to stick with "Patience" all of 2007. Sometimes it helped me to stop, take a deep breathe and just accept. It also helped me to spot a relationship that wasn't working far earlier on than I would have pre-Patience (see Vain Guy), simply because I was no longer desperate to rush into love by sheer force. So I was in and out of that little erroneous fling in two months flat. No harm, no foul.
Other times, my motto hasn't been so easy. These are the years I come up with something that I quickly forget. No biggie. At least I tried.
Then there are those rare occasions when the motto becomes a Resolution that actually sticks. Such as the motto's inaugural year back in 1996. The year of "F.U.N." This stands for "Free of Unnecessary Negativity" and it was my mission to do more FUN things even though I could always come up with a million excuses why I shouldn't. At that point in my life I was living in L.A.. lazy, slightly depressed, and broke. These are three solid excuses not to go out and have fun. But I got sick of it and I finally stumbled on a group of girlfriends who seemed willing to take on F.U.N. right along with me.
We threw great theme parties at our Brentwood pad, went to Universal Studios, took over the local roller skating rink, road tripped to Grand Canyon. It was one, damn F.U.N. year. I even have a photo album that documents the whole thing, and I look through it often and smile.
I haven't had quite as an inspired motto since then - until now. This one is far simpler (a no, duh for many of you I'm sure) and easier to sustain for a lifetime, I hope. And it keeps popping up almost every day. Either someone says it to me, or I read something that makes me think of it. But mostly I'm just getting plain old tired of rehashing the same old bullshit anxieties.
That's why in 2008 I'm going to try to "Let It Go." And by "It" I mean anything that isn't immediately relevant to what I value in my life. Sure, plenty of things are irritating, but do most of them really matter? Probably not. I guess the key is to Let Go of trying to control everything. With that you Let Go of quite a lot. To sum up my humble goal, I might be ready for some sort of Inner Peace.
This all started because of my approaching surgery. The more I research what I am about to undergo, the more I realise how completely incapacitated I am going to be for months. Just going to the bathroom or getting a glass of water is going to take every ounce of my concentration and physical strength. I simply won't have the energy to stress about things that aren't immediately important. Whatever energy I have will need to be directed at one thing - healing.
I realize this is an extreme scenario - and a temporary one. But if I'm going to go through this experience, then I want to get something lasting out of it (besides a reconstructed hip). So I'm going to try to extend the metaphor of self-healing to my life as a whole and do my best to keep my focus only on my necessary, immediate needs while letting the unnecessary things fall away.
This means I really have to decide what's important to me. What I choose to be important to me. And then fight like hell to keep that. The rest can just, well, bite me.
So while I'm lying in my rented hospital bed in my mother's living room, watching episode after episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I've never seen it and plan on watching the entire series beginning to end), I will hopefully be mending a hip and rebuilding a soul.
I've got a few weeks before I have to lock in my motto. So maybe something new and better will come along. But for now my plans are to Let It Go. Feel free to join me (and remind me of my motto if it seems like I might have forgotten).