Here’s what my New Year’s Eve looked like: I drew a hot bath, immersed myself in total relaxation, thought about tea, thought I had left the kettle on in the kitchen, and got back out of the bathtub.
Went downstairs. The kettle wasn’t on. Went back upstairs. Watched a video, texted with my teenager who was out on the town for the night (hence my reason for staying home. No built-in babysitter.) Thought the water would be cold but decided to try it anyway, got back in again. Found it to be perfectly pleasant, so melted into nothingness for a few moments.
Shaved my legs, got out, put my pajamas on, did the dishes, looked for something, read some Facebook, blah blah blah. Watched a movie with my kids. Put them to bed. Waited for midnight. Went outside in the snow in pajamas at midnight to watch the neighbors’ fireworks. Maybe all of you were out reveling the Eve away, but not me. My December 31st looked pretty much what any other night of the year looks like. In and out, up and down, forgetting and remembering, working and relaxing and watching the seconds of life fall away. We are no more able to pick each moment up and hold onto it than we can suspend flakes of snow or fleeting fire-sparks in the sky.
My journal reads like the hunting log of a moose with a muffin. A mouse with a cookie. Pig and pancake. You know the formula. Neither here nor there, but I met that author once. She admitted her books were formulaic, uninspired cash-cows. She’s not wrong. What a poophead.
So I know I’m a moose with a muffin. Ideas for new poems Jiffy-pop out of my head faster than I can write them down. Each one is like a little burst, shooting off the end of a firecracker. Instead of focussing on one at a time, I sort of wave my pen around like a kid holding a sparkler, writing her name in the dark air. I grab at scraps and jot down words and lines and then move on to the next idea before that one too gets away. Each time I promise myself to come back to it, that this time I will hold the idea in my brain and it will be just as good just as soon as I check my email/ run through a 20-minute yoga practice/ change the laundry/ fill-in-the-blank.
But it’s never just as good. I need to stay with the heat. I need to block myself enough time to dink around a while, get warmed up, then still have time to keep my butt in that chair a little while longer once the good stuff starts coming.
You do this too. I know you do. Our problem is sitting with each idea long enough to see it through. Not to finish it necessarily, but at least to know whether or not it’s even worth finishing.
Okay, so we gotta help each other out with this. Here are two ways I am going to challenge myself to get a little more gritty, have some more staying-power with my writing plans.
While I was soaking in that bath for the second time, for reals, I made a deal with myself. I thought about Change and Resolutions, and what would be different in the coming year and I resolved to accept who I am and not make any concerted efforts to change. I will accept situations, people, love, the country of my residence, my body, and my life just the way they are. I will accept that carbs are not my friends, that exercise is, that some things will never change, and that I am a lovable disaster. If I were to make other resolutions besides this one, this one critical one, they might read something like this:
Maybe I’ll finally revamp my own web page. Maybe I’ll lose a few pounds. Maybe I’ll take an aerial yoga class, learn Czech, plant a garden. But first I will focus on accepting that if I don’t do these things, that’s okay too. I may be a disaster, but at least I’m not a poophead.