I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions on New Year’s—partly because I always feel as if my new year is on the academic calendar, partly because Jan. 1st resolutions feel like a cliché, and partly because I for some reason have more success keeping them if I don’t actually make them on New Year’s Day. (Plus, technically, isn’t every day the start of a new year? [cf ‘70s catchphrase: Today is the first day of the rest of your life.]) Also, I think they might more accurately be referred to as New Year’s Experiments—because, although it’s fair to give something you’ve really identified as resolution-worthy a yearlong trial, if it turns out to be a bust after 365 days, you should give yourself a break, chalk it up to an experiment, and move on.
So here I am on Dec. 30 making this year’s experiments. These experiments can actually be traced to two of the wisest people I know–my dog Lucy (whom I choose to believe has a rich interior life even if, or maybe exactly because, she is a dog) and my friend Jack. First to Lucy.
Lucy’s wisdom is evident in how she chooses to live her life, as documented here. Lucy anticipates and patiently awaits pleasure, although the latter is hard for her and often involves drooling, as seen here where peanut butter has been promised. (Check out that tongue.):
When pleasure does arrive, Lucy dives in headfirst, especially after a respectable snowstorm:
And when it’s time to rest, Lucy doesn’t just rest when she rests, she luxuriates:
Await, dive in, luxuriate.
And this is Jack.
Here’s how his wisdom comes into play. This summer during the CSUWP Writer’s Colony, he revealed “the secret to being a writer.” Seriously, THE secret.
I’d heard Jack say it before, and I’m sure I’ll hear him say it again, because it’s true, and Jack should know because when I hear the word “writer,” as in, “What do you do?” and the most honest answer is “I’m a writer,” Jack’s face is one of the few that pops into my mind.
So here’s the secret, according to Jack:
If you want to be a writer, you should write every day. Then, many days later, whether you like it or not, you will be a writer.
In my bones, I know that Jack’s wisdom about writing applies to any worthwhile aspiration, in that if you want to be anything worth being—a writer, a runner, a musician, a best friend, a good cook—you can’t just visualize being these things, you have to actually be them. They must become practices in the most profound sense of that word.
So the wisdom of Lucy and Jack alongside one another inform this year’s experiments, which I’m calling run/write/breathe 365. The “run” and “write” parts are pretty straightforward, though “run” can be a stand-in for whatever exercise feels best on a given day. Write=write, not think about writing, not outline what you want to write, not revise or edit, but write, as in generate new content in written form. “Breathe” is the only option with metaphorical potential in that it can mean meditate, play the piano, take a bubble bath, sit on the back porch with Lucy and a cup a coffee and watch the sun go up (or with a glass of wine and the sun going down), and so on.
Run/write/breathe parallels await/dive in/luxuriate. Running preps me for the rest of everything. Writing demands just doing it. Luxuriating involves turning off my work-worry-monkey brain. And the 365 part means making these three things practices in my life every single day.
The reason I’m writing this here and not hiding it in the depths of my hard drive is that I’m hoping this blog will hold me accountable as a means of documentation. Daily, I resolve to record the results of the experiment in at least a three-phrase or three-sentence entry. That’s all I’m obligating myself to–more if I want (and it’s okay if I don’t), but no less.
There. I said it.
All that’s left now is the and-so-came-to-pass part. I’ll be back tomorrow to report how that went Day 1.