“We are what we repeatedly do.” – Aristotle
It totally is, you’re not wrong. New Years Resolution: Start a blog.
Been done before? Yep. Unoriginal? Probably. Cheesy? Maybe, but so what? I’m doing it anyway.
To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever liked the idea of New Years Resolutions. On the optimism spectrum, I typically fall within the realm of glass half-full. But to me, resolutions made on January 1st seem inevitably doomed to die. From my point of view, making resolutions seems a rather bitter ritual. Why should I make a promise to myself, stress about trying to make my new habit stick for a while, then ultimately give up on it altogether in a month or so? I didn’t think it was worth the trouble. Yet here I am.
To silence my internal grouch that keeps mumbling “Resolutions are stupid”, I’ve decided to turn my definition on its head. After all, words have meaning, and when you change the meaning of your words, your perception of reality has a tendency to shift around it.
If you think about resolution, especially around this time of year, it means something you commit to doing: “I will follow this carb-free, fat-free, sodium-free, sugar-free, taste-free diet to the letter” or “I will read a War and Peace equivalent-size novel every week without fail” or “I will write a blog post twice a week, every week, for an entire year.” It’s like we make train-tracks for ourselves: locking ourselves into some mode of behavior that we think we should be in anyway, and then trying to force ourselves into sticking it out. It’s restrictive.
Now, I’m not here to say that’s a bad thing. Steven Pressfield calls the I-don’t-really-wanna-effort-today nature that’s within us “resistance”, and we have to fight it constantly if we want to accomplish anything worthwhile. So although I’m not arguing against “restrictive”, I would like to point out that the origins of “resolution” are notably different from the New Years definition. The Latin root, resolvere, means to “loosen, unyoke, relax, set free.” Ever felt “set free” by a New Years resolution? Well, I’m giving it a shot. Ask me next year how it went.
All jokes aside, call it semantics if you want, but I’m choosing to look at my resolutions as a loosening, a relaxing, a freeing of myself onto my ambitions. By saying “I’m going to blog every week”, I’m not trying to force myself into a new behavior pattern. Instead, I’m asking “What’s keeping me from blogging every week?” I obviously already want to do it, so it’s not for lack of desire. So what is it that I need to unleash my writer-self, to set my creative voice free on the sea of noise and information that is the internet? I don’t have that answer fully carved out yet, but I’ve got a great little forum to dig at it right here on this blog. And I get to invite you, dear reader, to watch me dig.
Maybe you’re thinking “But why a blog, Preston? What’s up with that?”
I’ll tell you. But first, I’m going to finish what I was saying about resolutions.
For those of you that know me, you probably know I’m a fairly musical guy. For those of you that don’t know me that well, I’ve been known to strum a guitar here and there, or tinkle around on a piano. It’s a passion of mine, if you will. And music tends to wiggle its way into my thinking on just about everything: words in sentences have a rhythm, flavors in food have a harmony, voices in conversation have timbre and lyric. Weird, I know, but it’s how my brian works. So if you aren’t familiar with the idea of “resolution” in music, allow me to learn you real good right quick.
Basically, the resolution is that “Ahh…” feeling of satisfaction and ease you get when music that has been building tension through moving chords returns to the root chord of the key of the song. In most music, resolution is the key (no pun intended) to making it tolerable to listen to. For a good example, check out Counting Crows “Mr. Jones”. Around 1:24, the chorus kicks in, and that, my friend, is a musical resolution. Feel great, right?
So what if a New Years resolution could be like that? Picture it. All year long, there are tensions and stressors and this tightening feeling, and then January 1st comes along and whoosh. Finally. Feels like a fresh start, a new day, first rays of sunshine. Once more from the top, but this time better. Tastes like hope. Who wouldn’t want a resolution like that?
I decided that’s how mine are going to be this year. Instead of “Look at this whole year stretched out in front of me where I have to do this good-for-me XYZ all the time,”, I’m saying “Ah, I’ve arrived. Now I finally get to do what I’ve been looking forward to. And I get to enjoy it!”
You might be saying “Come on, Preston, you’re just playing with words.” And you would be right, I am playing with words. That’s because play is what we do here. This is my playground. But it’s serious play. If you really stop to think about it, play, when done instinctually (not indulgently) is learning. You know how much kids learn between ages one and two? A whole-stinking-lot, let me tell you. And what are they doing most of the time, when they aren’t burning through cartons of diapers or begging for more ketchup so they can eat it off their fingers? They’re playing. I may be oversimplifying it, but there’s still some truth there. They learn exponentially as they play. My kids love to read. They’re 1 and 3; they don’t know how to read yet, but they love to read. They will incessantly bring their Mom and me books to read to them, as if to say to us “Tell me what all this stuff is in here!”
So to answer the question of “Why a blog?”…well that’s big-kid me, imitating my little joyful learners. “Ooo, this is writing? What is all this stuff in here?” I’m doing this to play, and I’m playing to learn. Because to be honest, I don’t have the faintest idea what I’m doing. But if 2017 taught me anything, it’s that I’ve got to do something, and that I can’t let inexperience or misgivings or whatever fill-in-the-blank excuse I manage to come up with paralyze me. This is me doing, and I’ll figure it out as I go.
I opened with the Aristotle quote because it sums up the force behind what I’m doing here: whatever it is you do, do it, and do it, and do it again. So I’m putting it out there as an open invitation: I’ll be here, every week, twice a week, playing in my sandbox. I imagine I’ll dig up a lot of plain ol’ dirt, but maybe there will be a little treasure in there sometimes. We’ll never know if I don’t start digging.
Once more from the top. But this time better.