I’m finished with having goals. I’m not really what you’d call an ambitious person. Goals kind of suck because you have to strive to attain them. The word “strive” sounds a little painful, doesn’t it? “Strive”, “strain”, “stress”… see what I mean? It is a little unsettling that I was unable to go a full week with goals, but I have decided to remain content waiting for things to fall into my lap. “Lap.” Now there’s a peaceful word. Rhymes with “nap”.
So, what did I learn from this little experiment?
First and foremost, I don’t like to be told what to do. Even if I am the one doing the telling. When that happens, I get on my nerves. First I ignore myself, then I tell myself what I think I want to hear, then I get angry, and I become belligerent, and more than once, sneaky. Then I have to beat myself down, and eventually I do, because I am relentless. Finally I do what I am supposed to, but only at the last minute, and kind of half-assed.
In the end, it’s best that I just don’t ask myself to do anything. My new strategy is to wait until I have actually done something, and then praise myself profusely. If there is one thing I have learned in doggie obedience school, it is this: positive reinforcement for good behavior is key. And it’s working already! I didn’t want to write this post, because to write it I’d have to start it, but then I did it anyway, and look how far I am already! Yay me! Who’s a good girl? Who’s a pretty lady! It’s me! I am!
I also learned that when it’s 252 degrees outside, it is relatively easy to stay inside and nap. The more you lay around, the more exhausted you become. I now sleep about 18 hours a day. And I sweat a lot less.
The reading goal worked well for me. I finished another big best seller- I’m trying to be au courant and hip, so that when I am invited to fancy parties with hors d’oeurves on silver trays and fountains of sake running through ice sculptures of bears catching salmon in glittering sake streams, I will be able to say, “Oh, yes, I read that! As you can tell by my love of reading, and the fact that I have read many modern bestsellers, I am no dummy! I would be a welcome addition to future parties of this ilk! Now please, accompany me to the sake bear, and we will intelligently and animatedly discuss current works of stimulating literature, while I fill the perfume bottles in my purse with sake that tastes of mountain air and harmony!”
The novel I last read is A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan. It was good, especially at the end. I gotta say though, I’m still partial to the Shteyngart, though the title is a pain in the ass to type. If you want to read it again, look it up. You have the Google. Anyway, the two books had some things in common that I really like. They both jump around in time and person; neither are totally linear. The authors examine the characters’ inner monologues in interesting, new ways. Both do a great job with dialogue and making the characters distinct and sympathetic, while weaving complex plots that are compelling, though not fantastic or extraordinary. They make the every day, common stuff seem pretty darn riveting. Thematically, they explore missed opportunities and mistakes that can’t be undone, as well as those that are of the “shit happens” or “wrong place, wrong time” type, and other things that are eternally fascinating, like love, loss, and the passing of time. They both look at the future, and the future these authors imagine is dystopian and sad. They are indebted to 1984, which is still the greatest book ever. All three books point out that in the near future, a different language is spoken, and people are unable (and increasingly unwilling) to attempt to express themselves openly and directly. Here is a passage from the end of A Visit from the Goon Squad:
Rebecca was an academic star. Her new book was on the phenomenon of word casings, a term she’d invented for words that no longer had meaning outside quotation marks. English was full of the empty words – “friend” and “real” and “story” and “change – words that had been shucked of their meaning and reduced to husks. Some, like “identity”, “search,” and “cloud,” had clearly been drained of life by their Web usage. With others, the reasons were more complex; how had “American” come to be an ironic term? How had “democracy” come to be used in an arch, mocking way? (p.324)
True that, right? In an age where we have Face Friends and Friends With Benefits (how many of those friends are you still friends with after the benefits stop?), and reality tv sets a new definition of real, when “natural” often has nothing to do with nature, and when “awesome” or “epic” or “great” all basically mean “good”, etc., etc., we lose the precision of language, and with that the ability to say exactly what we mean. Perhaps we lose the ability to pinpoint exactly what we feel or think.
All three expect increased government and media control, and reliance on technology, and less individual creativity and will.
I love torturing myself thinking about that gloom and doom stuff.
The goals thing taught me that there is a lot to do that I don’t want left undone. Tick, tock, tick, right? So I hope that I get a bee up my butt and start to do something soon. I hope I don’t regret wasting my summer by laying on the couch admiring the red, yellow and green leaves of the Japanese Maple outside my window until my eyes grow heavy, or crawling to the window sill to get a close-up view of a skinny, spring-grass green lizard, bobbing up and down and puffing out his rose-pink throat, maybe just for me. I love these moments, but I worry…
Of course, this is the ambivalence that started the whole goal thing in the first place. I am right back where I started. I have learned absolutely nothing.
These ice sculptures were handcrafted by Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo. They were displayed in 2009 by the German branch of the World Wildlife Fund to highlight global warming. You can see more photos of them here: http://www.streetartutopia.com/?p=1089 This street art site is terrific! Go to their home page and check out the more modern stuff.
Stay cool, fools!