Sunday, January 2, 2011

Into the Woods

Happy New Year, everyone!  I know it's traditional to have a list of resolutions on the day of Janus, the two-faced God.  I've constructed one of those, too.  More than that, though, I want to keep on with the process of self-discovery.  Not the self-pity kind I indulged in a couple of months ago, and maybe not even the Scrooge-like analysis I had last week.  Real honest-to-goodness self-discovery is the goal here.

So, at the top of my list is to cultivate the good parts of my personality, to understand that my frequent lack of self-confidence stems from the fact that I ignore those good qualities and let them wither.  Many folks in various words have said that I must exercise those good parts to strengthen them like muscles.

Remember the movie "The Dead Poet's Society?"  Remember the bit that opened each of the Society's meetings?  In typical Hollywood arrogance, the screenwriters changed the wording of the great Henry David Thoreau (pictured), but let me quote the original.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

It's long past time I went into the woods.  Time that I stopped being frightened of my own potential.  Time that I discovered exactly what my potential is.  Time that I risked to gain rather than letting time catch up with me.  "To front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

New Year's Resolution Number One:  I'm going into the woods.  I'll read more.  The classics.  The genres I hope to write in.  To follow my own path wherever it may lead.  I've always wanted to be a great storyteller, and couldn't give two shits in a piss pot about being a great writer.  Well, what-the-eff is wrong with wanting to be the best possible writer as well.  BTW - a single word meaning "couldn't give two shits in a piss pot about," is "eschewed."  So, what's wrong with cultivating the ability to use either or both of those expressions depending on the situation?  Hmmm?

None, to my mind.  They're both expressive in their own ways.

Oh, and part of that is watching less television.  Sorry TVFN

New Year's Resolution Number Two:  I will not knowingly read any more bad writing or bad stories.  Period.  It'll take a little more time in the bookstore to accomplish this one, but I will.  I'll have to pick and choose carefully, because life is quickly becoming too short to read shit.  But along those same lines ...

New Year's Resolution Number Three:  I will read more new material than old, because I'm not writing in the world of Dickens, or Austen, or Thoreau.  I'm writing in the here and now, and even those stories I write about periods long since gone, I have to write from the perspective of the here and now for the here and now.

Ain't that right?  :-)

So, New Year's Resolution Number Four:  I mentioned last week, I will learn to love the man looking back at me in the morning.  He's a pretty good guy most of the time.  I'm resolved to make him better and to understand him better and try to understand other people better.

New Year's Resolution Number Five:  I'm going to cultivate courage.  I can't say I'm going to stop being afraid.  That's not realistic.  Fear is not a light switch to be turned on and off.  But I can resolve to ... what's the common phrase? ... feel the fear and do it anyway.

The art of doing that is called courage.

I have been afraid most of my life, you see, for stupid reasons and rational ones.  But setting all of that aside, a new almost overwhelming fear has latched its claws into my skin.  It's best expressed by a poem I learned in college, one you won't find in "Dead Poet's Society."  It's called, "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
            The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
            And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

I'm walking up to that point of blushing unseen, and it's scaring the shit out of me.  So, by cultivating courage, I can accept this and make sure it doesn't happen, that I don't die without at least giving it my best shot.  To have the guts to walk out of that desert air and not waste myself and my gifts.  I feel I've done that to this point.

I want to contribute something.  To realize what Walt Whitman meant when he wrote ...

That you are here--that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

And yes, this one is in "Dead Poet's Society."

I'd so love to contribute a verse.

New Year's Resolution Number Six:  I will contribute a verse.  This year.

How about another verse from "Dead Poet's Society?"  Robert Herrick - To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day

To-morrow will be dying.

And so that I can put off the last part as long as possible ...

New Year's Resolution Number Seven:  In three parts ... eat healthy ... deliberate exercise three times a week ... reach out to others and care for them.

This last part may, in fact, be the most important one.  So be it resolved that I pay particular attention to that.

I weighed in at 270 yesterday morning.  We'll start there, and I'll resume posting my weight.

See y'all next week.


  1. Here's to the success of your resolutions, Rocky.
    I would, if I were you, print them out and stick them somehwere I can see them every day. :-)
    Happy New Year,pal.

  2. Thanks, Jamie! And Happy New Year to you and yours as well!!!

  3. Rock, I agree wholeheartedly with all your resolutions. Good luck and enjoy success!!

  4. Wishing you success on your resolutions. I know you'll rock it like the star you are. xo (MISS YOU!)