High Res Newsolutions

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“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

– L.M. Montgomery

2016 is upon us, and as I prepare to bridge the New Year with a late anniversary trip to Santa Fe and points beyond, I want to inject a bit of optimism into the proceedings.

My whole life has been an exercise in mediocrity. (No, that’s not the optimistic part.) I have always been very good at being moderately accomplished in a variety of contexts–a sort of Renaissance-ish Man, if you will. I can play the piano, the viola, the drums, and a bit of the guitar, and I can sing…well enough to get by, to amuse myself, and no more. As a theater student, many moons ago, I could act my way onto a stage and off of it, without overly impressing or depressing anyone. I can write, and I dedicate myself to my craft…whenever the mood strikes, which isn’t terribly often. In other words, I coulda been a contender, but instead, I’ve rarely cleared the ceiling of “intender.”

But that all changed yesterday. Yesterday, instead of just carping on a cause, I stepped up and actually did something concrete. You see, yesterday, I officiated for the first time at a same-sex wedding. I’m not just talking about LGBT rights anymore; I’m standing up and doing something about it. It was in my power to offer something to someone that they hadn’t had access to before. And yes, I know anyone can perform these ceremonies now; I know someone else could have done this for these wonderful people. But it wasn’t someone else. It was me.

So that’s my New Year’s resolution: I’m done with the “just okay” approach to life. From now on, it’s balls to the wall. I’m going down swinging.

I hereby resolve:

  1. I will think not just outside the box, but outside the concept of box-ness. There are no boxes, as far as I’m concerned, anymore. It’s time for new and crazy-ass ideas, because today’s crazy is tomorrow’s hope for change.
  2. I will use this blog as a starting point, but it will be just that–a springboard for actual action, in the real world, because, while words are important and powerful, on their own they just aren’t enough.
  3. I will throw myself back into my work like never before, because at the end of the day, what you do and how you do it is who you are. Point me to my sled and tell me to mush; I’m ready to pull like my life depends on it. Because I firmly believe that in some cases, some people’s do.
  4. I will be a friend. I will answer my phone. I will help when asked, no matter who asks me. I will smile, even when it hurts, because it’s only dark until someone turns on a light. And my hand is on the switch.

Expect a post a week from me in future (if you’re listening); anything else takes up too much time, distracts too much from actually living a life that touches the lives of others. Unless your blog is how you touch the lives of others, in which case, blog away, and may it give you purpose.

But if you do seek to change the world by means of the blog, remember: hate breeds only more hate, bigotry cuts both ways, and there are real faces sporting real lives and back stories behind the little icons on your screen. So proceed with love and caution.

Happy New Year to you all,
and may 2016 be our moment, as a species,
to shine!

Kicking a Dead Cliché

It’s decision time! What’s it going to be–a new year, or just another year closer to death?

Like everyone else, I am attempting to formulate my New Year’s resolutions. In the past, I’ve found this a somewhat pointless endeavor: like most folks, I have tended historically to make them in order to break them. And then, 2012 happened. And I came to see the whole process in a brand new light.

See, when last year began, I was stuck in the mother of all ruts. Against all advice (because that’s how I roll), I spent 2006-09 working on a graduate degree in church-state studies. I’m sure that’s got you all scratching your heads. Be assured that you are in good company, or at the very least a large company. Explaining what that means to pretty much anyone is like trying to explain Shakespeare to a third grader: it’s do-able, but is it really worth the effort? Anyway, as it turns out, there are very few job descriptions built around whatever skill set that sort of degree confers–at least not explicitly. I have no real desire to go on to doctoral studies, mainly because I’d still like to enjoy reading when I hit forty. So, in the well-known panic that sets in after graduation–I gotsta have a job!–I grabbed for that most familiar of fruits: the low-hanging kind. And I ended up as a library cataloger. A “special collections” library cataloger, no less. Sound impressive? Yeah, not so much. I am a data entry monkey in a banana boat world. And apparently, I can’t get out. Where are the Orcs when you need ’em?

Furthermore, at about the time I landed this “cherry” of a job, I also decided to buy a house. Because that’s what grown-ups do. Here’s a tip: If your entire personality hinges on the need to explore and discover–if the wanderlust is in your veins–if you can’t look at a map without an involuntary twitch–DON’T BUY A COTTON-PICKIN’ HOUSE! In any case, don’t buy one in a city you hate in a state that makes you physically ill. (No state should have itself-shaped corn chips.) Because–and this is becoming a theme, I know–you can’t get out.

So, when you can’t flee, what do you do? Well, behavioral scientists will tell you that when flight isn’t an option, most creatures will fight. Or roll over and die.

Last year, melodramatic as it may sound, I decided to fight. I decided that it was time to put an end to several years’ worth of pity party and actually get something useful done. To stop waiting for the mountain to come to me, get out there, and pull a Mohammed.

I am a writer, so I decided to write. I resolved to finish my first book (which has been a dream of mine since grade school, really) by my next birthday. With a little help from my wife, who pointed me in the direction of a publisher that might be interested in a long-time pet project of mine, I set off on an eight-month journey back and forth across the Midwest and an educational tour of my own history. Both Tammy and I had our reservations about this, mind you, based on past experiences with New Year’s irresolutions, but nevertheless…off I went. And for once, my resolution stood. By the last week of September, I had submitted a completed draft to my publisher, and the book comes out on March 4. It would appear that, when pushed far enough toward the brink, even I can follow through.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that New Year’s resolutions are a lot easier to honor when you mean them. Or when they really mean something to you. So, as an experiment, I’m going to try and hit paydirt again this year. So, after careful consideration, here are my resolutions for 2013.

Or, as Ryan Seacrest would say, here they are…right after the break.