I haven’t posted anything in so long. My world was distorted by upcoming graduate school applications, vacations and illnesses. Now that those things have departed I can maybe write. So many things have been happening in my life and I have been keeping my brain, hands and heart busy with projects, books, language studies and the like. There has been some thing that I have been noticing as a bit of a recurring theme in my life lately and something I have always been fascinated with, our ability to imagine, long for and morn for things that we never had.
This started with my non-goal, goal of NOT having a new years resolution. Too many years prior I have made new years resolutions to stop doing something; quit smoking, quit sugar, stop drinking after 3 drinks, quit being a loner, stop sleeping in, stop going to bed late. Did I stop of any of these, well yeah, but not anywhere near New Years and not because I wrote it on some list where I promised myself I am going to stop being that lame version of me and put the better version of me suit on. I saw the me coming into the New Year as failing to live up to some image that I had crafted about who I should be or what I should be doing (not chain smoking, binge eating and having an affinity for cheap beer). I don’t think this type of goal setting ever works. It pins us against ourselves in a battle, of reality and imaginary, but most of the time there is no erasing the dream self and there is nothing that we can do but the best with what we’ve got. (There are ways to actually stop doing things but this isn’t the point of this so I won’t digress to discuss it.)
Moving on to the next development of my goal setting. I am a bit of an obsessive goal setter. I don’t just set year goals. I set year goals, and month goals, and week goals and daily goals. I love crafting calenders and planning out detailed schedules with each goal highlighted and I can check off daily my accomplishments. Now a days I don’t set goals about my limitations I set goals to expand my skills and become freakishly awesome at everything. It is gross.
This new years I have no goals. I am not allowed to make any goals. I am only allowed to do things that are fun and enjoyable. That is it. The reason for this is that every time that I establish goals what I am doing is saying that I am not good enough, right now. I am looking to the ideal of me, the one that doesn’t exist, and comparing this pretend me to the actual. But the reality of life is, I am awesome. Pretend me doesn’t have really strange ideas that come at 4am and leave before 9am, pretend me doesn’t make the same thing for a month straight trying to prefect it, pretend me doesn’t want to watch every single french new wave ever made, pretend me doesn’t have one person dance parties, pretend me doesn’t hang out by myself and laugh at silly things, pretend me isn’t vulnerable, she isn’t real and she would probably suck to hang out with. The truth is, I don’t need to change anything about me nor do I need to do things so that I can somehow be a better me. I love every little adorable strangeness and I don’t want to be anyone else. I want to be really- really happy and really- really good at just being me.
I find myself still doing “goal” types things, for example I am working out, baking, learning a language but the difference is I can stop when I want to, I made no calendars that I check off daily and I only do it, if it is fun.
I think that too often people identify themselves by the things that they lack or the things that they aren’t doing. I have had countless conversations with my girlfriends and they tell me they are unhappy in their jobs, their relationship, they want to lose weight, and stop drinking. I think that these types of self identifications is the greatest form of self oppression. Our capacity is so much richer than are ability to mark a few things of the to-do lists, find the perfect mate (which doesn’t exist), buying x,y or z or being a size 6. It is backwards to think that doing things will create a new person. People can change their lives but it is through changing everything they think about themselves first.
But I think this problem of projected selves is much more complex then goal setting and leads to ideas of mortality, meaning and legacy, and is found in struggles in relationships, family structures, contentment, materialism, peer approval and politics. This idea of betterment is what fuels pretty much the majority of consumer good and consumer emotions and our entire culture. You can do it. You can be that which you always dreamed of being. You can have everything you have always wanted. But wait, what if you can’t? What if what you want is impossible- you can’t fight aging, you can’t change people, you can’t buy happiness, you can live forever, you can’t make someone love you… Well that is like someone handing you a bag of poop, it stinks. What if you were really stoked on life? What if you really liked yourself and everything about you? What if the only the only thing you wanted to change, weren’t your neuroses, but how could your community better express your values in politics and production? I think that would be so wild and it would totally shake up our world or maybe it would just shake up your world, whatever.