I rarely leap in to New Year’s Resolutions. What more often happens is that some time in the days after the calendar turns I realize that January is so much quieter than December, and thus would be a perfect time to take on a project. This year there were two that inspired me around January 6.
500 words a day
This is a surprisingly modest goal. It takes no time at all to bang out 500 words a day or more. Ideally all of those words would be part of longer projects, but I count everything: blog posts, texts for teaching, even some recent ghostwriting. It’s all craft, and it’s beneficial for me to practice.
One piece of clutter a day
No, I’m not adding to my collection of bric-a-brac but rather the opposite: I’m trying to deal with the items that have sat untouched in my closets since I moved in seven years ago. The first Monday of 2014 I pulled my old guitar out of my closet and took it to have a friend give it a check-up and leave it at school, where it is more likely to be used. Each day since I have gotten rid of something: old scarves to Goodwill, crusty nail polishes in the trash, and insurance policies from 2003 in the recycling.
Over the holiday weekend I tackled my old CDs, which were cluttering up an entire bureau drawer in an apartment where space is at a premium. Old demos, chunky classical sets and retro portfolios were in a space I avoided. As I pored through everything, pulling out the discs, sorting the cases for recycling and the folders for donation, I marveled at the collection that even I, who likes to travel lightly, had amassed.
I remembered putting all those CDs into slots in binders, like a kid with baseball cards, marking out my worth in the world by the items I had acquired.
Now I have an empty drawer, and can move some things out from under the bed, and thus can slide the CD player under the bed, and place on the newly cleared surface things that make me happy.
Two resolutions is more than enough for any busy person, but even as I set these two I knew there was another I need to make. Perhaps it’s not so much a resolution as a negation of the ones I had made: I resolved to go easy on myself when I wasn’t able to meet one of my goals.
On a day when nausea had me struggling to stay upright, I *only* wrote 150 words. I didn’t stress about it for a second. When I had a glorious afternoon of having adventures and visiting friends with my dear one, I didn’t give a passing thought to getting home and throwing something away.
(Besides, that week I’d pitched a dozen old markers, so I figured that bought me some time.)
There is no danger of me ever not being driven (in fact, my mother describes me as having been “born in drive”), and I’m learning not to panic when I have to take my foot off the gas for a little while. It may be an untruth to say “there will always be time”, but for now there is time, and I am learning to hold it gently.
Did you make any resolutions or commitments? How are they going for you?