I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions and I finally made progress this year to not make the same resolutions I make every year like:
1) Pay off credit cards.
2) Travel overseas.
3) Be thinner and work out more. (What a stupid resolution, but I’m sure I made this one in my twenties. A better resolution would be to get laid as much as possible while still young and healthy (only by extremely cool people, obviously). I doubt the guys will notice that four pounds I always want to lose.)
4) Don’t make out with upperclassmen at parties when you are drunk (I’m pretty sure I made this one in 1992).
It’s so easy to tell yourself you are going to do big things, you are going to live life to the limit, you are going to love boundlessly, you are going to stop acting “out of fear”, you’re going to stop being a bitch to your Mom. Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram have been full of such proclamations recently. A lot of people are telling me to get outside, usually whilst I’m checking Facebook on a run with my dog (lame). I think of these posts as “boast-posts” disguised as gratitude. I hate being told what to do, including by my friends, and social media seems like such a cheap place to try and inspire people – so action-less.
(New Resolution: Stop thinking bitchy thoughts about your friends and family on social media!)
I search for enlightenment and I try to quiet down enough, sometimes, to listen to the universe, I just don’t usually choose to find it and listen to it on social media or online dating profiles. A lot of people use that tiny space on Tinder to write something like “Live your life, don’t let it live you”… you know, some stupid crap like that. But I’m not on Tinder, of course. (See “Tinder’d” Parts I and II.)
It’s so great to think those positive things, and really try to live your life that way, and “be present” though. I remind myself to “be present” often in my head, and not just when I’m eating fries. I have to remind myself because I forget that shit regularly. I always thought I was practicing the spiritual exercises of being present and acceptance and not assuming. Or maybe I really wasn’t trying at all, which is more likely; I think I was actually judging the crap out of people and scaring them away in bars – that was, when I wasn’t hating myself and trying to control my life and future without actually doing anything about what I wanted.
I have cried in the temple ceremony at the yoga retreat and thought about becoming who I really am, and then my life forced me to actually do it, and forget about resolutions that involved being financially responsible, not slutty, and not a bitch. So what was my enlightening experience? Did I go to South America and hike or become a yoga instructor or climb mountains or sky dive?
No. My Dad died.
2013 started for me with my Dad dying (January 3, 2013, the day after his 67th birthday). My distant, deadbeat, lovely, weird, handsome, handy, and utterly cool, fucking difficult Dad was the hardest gift of my life to receive, because everything and everyone around me told me he wasn’t right, but there were things about him that were so perfect that I missed for so long. I didn’t even realize I had his nose until he died because my sister inherited his beautiful eyes and perfect teeth. I got the anti-establishment belief system and the funny nose.
My Dad once told me that his first rule of relationships was “I get to be me, and you get to be you.” He was not perfect, and he failed as a father. But I wish I had allowed him to be him enough for him to tell me more stuff like that.
I had 6 weeks and a lifetime to prepare for him leaving me in ultimate because of Marlboro Reds and stage 4 lung cancer. Years of ignoring my feelings and issues came rushing up in my throat and forced me to deal with them as I vomited it all uncontrollably for months.
I am very aware that I sound like one of those annoying Facebook posts right now. But this is a blog; it’s different.
The post my Dad dying me is so much cooler, so much happier, and capable of making resolutions like this:
1) Open all mail at least twice a week. (Facing avoidance issues.)
2) Start a savings plan for trip to Sweden. (Actually long term planning instead of wishing and blaming circumstances for things not happening.)
3) Start using Hoot Suite. (Actual practical method of operations for someone with a blog.)
4) Create an actual bill pay off plan that will actually pay off my credit cards – like a realistic, long term one, not an unrealistic one that will be derailed by new boots, that turns into a bunch of new stuff and expenditures because, well, I bought the boots, so…
This is what I’ve got now in 2014, – a logically thinking brain that can make small and thought out goals because it isn’t distracted by the garbage of a troubled soul. Because 2013 was all about my willful, childish self, I can do this now. Being forced to be more of an adult than I’d ever been brought out the insolent teenager in me, the high school makeout queen on several Natty Lights. And, I got her out of my system for the foreseeable future.
2013 was about emptying the apartment of my dead father mere weeks after I was cringing at the sight of him dying in it, inheriting several mason jars of weed, “The Joy of Sex Part II”, and an apartment full of furniture. It was about closing his bank account and liquidating his retirement account and adapting a “fuck it” attitude about the pot I was smoking and the too young guys I was dating and actually letting one of them wreck my emotions (the guy, not the pot – the pot was actually a good friend in this time period). It was about telling my sister I would call the Sioux Falls library system and personally tell them to fuck off for trying to get back “The Hunger Games” trilogy from my dead father if she didn’t want to do it herself (she got all the forwarded mail). It was about not giving a shit about what I’d thought I was supposed to be doing since turning 30 because we all die anyway and not being yourself is a colossal waste of time. Especially if you aren’t getting paid for it.
Not surprisingly, 2013 was also about having a therapist. I might be a head of the class therapy all-star, because I only went for six months. Eventually, I stopped crying all the time. I learned to communicate with my friends, making my friendships so much more valuable and beautiful to me. I learned to communicate with my family. I learned to accept them all, including myself. Forgiveness was something I’d always known, mostly. Acceptance is much harder work, and makes your life so much easier.
2013 was about weekends spent crying in my apartment, listening to my Dad’s records and clutching the box with his ashes to me when I felt especially awful (I am aware that this is creepy). It was about eventually finding a special place for some of those ashes in my home, and letting the rest of them float gracefully downward into the Mississippi River from a bridge just blocks from where they were born, with my only blood sister and best friend next to me. We watched them arc through the air and draw a line in the water to where they were headed with the current. 2013 was about eventually thinking about getting rid of some of my Dad’s stuff like I let go of the ashes. But keeping some too. Including the weed, on both counts. And really, I haven’t been able to let go of much yet. But I will.
I may need to go back to therapy eventually to deal with my intense commitment issues (see lack of long term planning skills noted above), but I think just opening the mail and sitting down to create an actual budget – like, a realistic one I can totally stick to, are small steps toward not being as scared of obligations and long term logistics… and the people that you feel obligated to.
I think I’ve finally learned how to let life happen to me (instead of telling myself all the wrong things were happening to me because I thought I wasn’t the person I should be), and happiness happen to me (you create it, of course, but you have to make room for it by being yourself). And I think it’s making space for me being an adult where it counts. My fucking checkbook people, and my passport. I mean, where it counts for reaching goals I’ve had for a long time with no idea how to achieve.
Death is an extremely commonplace and inexpensive way to be enlightened, but it works. It teaches the damned lesson, that’s for sure. ”Death is for the living” was always in my mind, because the brief time I had with my Dad in his illness, the painful few moments, the day of calling him because he could no longer speak but he could hear me, and I was a ten hour drive away and didn’t know if I wanted to go be with him or if this would go on for days, or if he wanted me there… those are the things I don’t think about as much later on. I can’t change them. It’s what started happening to me once he was gone that was the authentic experience of his exit. If I had a day to be with my Dad without thinking about what a crappy Dad he’d been… oh, if I had that day. He died with regret, and I don’t want to. If I make it to the mountain tops and the other continents, my Facebook posts should be more grateful and braggy than anyone else’s now. But I want to write them on my own heart and those of the people I love. I’ve finally started to understand.
And I really do think I’ll start paying off my credit cards this year. I’ve heard that money can’t buy love.