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A Word for the Year

Fixing the Psychedelic Camera (Again)

Fixing the Psychedelic Camera (Again)

December 2007 Edinburgh, Scotland


I've never been all that good about New Years Resolutions. They seem like such noble, worthy ideas on December 31st but by January 2nd or 3rd they're seeming like burdens, not blessings. Good intentions quickly turn into annoyances and then resentments and within a week or so I'm back in those comfortable, familiar ruts doing all of the same old things.

It's easier to just complain about them than actually change them, isn't it?

Well, yes, quite frankly, it is. And if I had an unlimited lifespan in which to eventually get around to doing stuff I might be content to continue putting off those changes that I'd like to see happen in my life. And, since I'm doubtful that I'll find that magic wand (that's just got to be out there somewhere) I need to do something to make my life and myself more of what I want to be.

If you've read my LJ for a while and looked at the music I listen to you will have seen the name Christine Kane appear from time to time. Christine is an Asheville, NC-based musician whose career I've followed for many years. (We first saw her at The Festival for the Eno, one of the summer shows we've done) I really like her music, lyrics and willingness to do the occasional 'silly' song.

Christine's blog is one of the few musician's blogs that I read on a regular basis. I read it, in large part, because she's an incredibly positive, encouraging voice in the blogosphere. (The subtitle for her blog is, "Be Creative. Be Conscious. Be Courageous.")

Last year Christine blogged about the idea of not making a New Years Resolution but, instead, simply picking a single word and letting it guide your year.

"So, instead of making resolutions - which do little to inspire you - you choose the word “courage.” Courage then becomes what guides you. Each day you focus on that word. When you don’t want to go to the gym, you don’t berate yourself with the threat of your resolution. Instead, you motivate yourself with your word. “Courage.” You say it aloud to remind yourself. And you go because learning how to not be scared of change is exciting to you. The word then builds on itself. You might decide to take a yoga class even though the skinny yoga girls have always scared you. You might find that you have a little more energy with each new thing you try. Maybe this energy motivates you to call an old friend in your field and let her know you are looking for another job. Courage becomes the guiding force, not the harsh standard. (And WAY better for you than a pound of bacon and four eggs for breakfast, too!)

-- Christine Kane, "You Say You Want a Resolution" Blog entry, December 31, 2006

This year she's blogged about it again and I've decided to take her up on the idea.

The only question is, what word to choose?

Well, for me, I started with a list of changes that I'd like to create this year:
  • spend planned time constructively writing
  • clean up and stop creating such clutter in my working environments
  • get in better shape/lose weight
  • put order to and organize those areas of my life that need them

I also took a look at some of the underlying reasons I'm not doing those things already (in no particular order):
  • laziness
  • fear
  • not being conscious of the choices I'm making and/or their consequences

Christine's blog entry for this year has a long list of possible words for people to consider. I read through the list and didn't find one that seemed to sum up everything for me. Intent had a certain appeal, but I heard the echoes of "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" in my head and knew that Intent meant nothing without Constructive Action behind it.

Thinking about it, I quite liked Constructive Action. For a while I thought about choosing this as a Phrase for the Year (instead of a Word for the Year) but it seemed like there was something missing from it. Constructive action in and of itself was fine, but if I'm really looking to create some changes in my life I think a bit more of the underlying cause of the need for the constructive action might be needed.

Despite days of thinking about it, I was having problems coming up with a single word that would encompass all that I wanted it to take in. So, I took the question with me to the quiet of the Quaker meeting yesterday and thought about it.

Purpose was the word that came to me. I sat with it for a while and decided it felt right.

To me, Purpose is a reminder ("I have a purpose to my life that I will act upon"), a question ("What is the purpose of doing this?") and a call for action. ("A thing with valid purpose requires me to do something about it")

Its also a word that has come up in the past when I've looked at the things in my life I haven't liked and wondered how I got to this place. Laziness, a lack of direction, a lack of consciousness and a lack of purpose are the reasons that I've thought when I've looked in the mirror.

So, that's my word for the year. If, after reading Christine's blog entries (and comments) you've decided to try to live the year through a single, simple word, I'd love to know what it is.

And even if you don't choose one yourself, feel free to check in with me throughout the year and ask me how my year with Purpose is going.




( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 31st, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC)
Having just read your entry, the word that pops into my head for me is "Zero" . . . over the past many years a dominant theme in my life has been scrambling to catch up with everything . . . always being behind on the things that need being minded . . . but it seems that in 2008 I really have a chance to get back to Zero . . . to a place of equilibrium . . . to not always feeling behind . . . to a place where actions can do more than just try and fill defecits . . . to a place where every day's focus is not on putting out that day's fires . . . but, instead, to a Zero state, where I can look ahead without ducking, and look back without escaping into the past . . . Zero will mean getting the house wholly unpacked by July (so no more rooting through boxes when there's something that I need and know is in one of those boxes) . . . will mean getting a semblance of organization to the house by September (so that we can stop buying things that we already have but cannot find when we need them) . . . Zero . . . a place where I can be more relaxed for E, for my spouse, and for myself.
Dec. 31st, 2007 05:52 pm (UTC)
tommy keene, one of my favorite DC musicians of the 80s, wrote a song called "back to zero".

"you don't want to be somebody's hero, no
you just want to get back to zero now"

sounds like a worthy goal as you've described it for yourself.

what do you need to do first to get there?

Dec. 31st, 2007 06:05 pm (UTC)
PUrpose is a good word!!!!!! but I'm not ready for purpose, but am ready for some courage to face things,and to do the actions I've thought about ...so perhaps courage will be my word = I need to think a little more on that, but yes courage is most likely the word i need. xxxxxxxx Happy New Year.
Dec. 31st, 2007 06:09 pm (UTC)
happy new year to you as well!

if you haven't already read christine's two blog entries about this concept, please do. i think you'll like her a lot and her examples (and the comments she quotes about how people have used this in their lives) are very good (and inspiring!).

Dec. 31st, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC)
I don't have my copy of the soundtrack here: so don't watch this, just listen. It's from Avenue Q. Purpose

Perfect word. Hope the new year proves purposeful Also a good goal.

Dec. 31st, 2007 11:22 pm (UTC)
i think the reminder that i wish to spend more time living a purpose-driven life will be helpful. empowering, even.

have you thought about coming up with a word for yourself for '08?

Jan. 1st, 2008 02:04 am (UTC)
Good question. I have a bunch of concepts I wish to pursue, although not necessarily restricted to 08... I've been working on a lot of stuff. It'll be hard to condense into one word, but I'll let you know if I find one that works well.
Jan. 1st, 2008 02:27 am (UTC)
P.S. Hope you don't mind me linking to this (twice)

if ya do, let me know.
Jan. 1st, 2008 03:05 am (UTC)
um, why would i mind you linking to me?

[kids...] :)

Jan. 1st, 2008 03:32 am (UTC)
haha, I dunno, just wanted to be sure you didn't mind it being linked from flickr too.

:D Glad its not an issue.
Jan. 1st, 2008 10:30 am (UTC)

Loose ends to tie up, ongoing issues to resolve, goals to get back on track.

Jan. 1st, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
sounds like a good word, one that recognizes where you are and your desire to move forward.

christine also recommends if you should feel that you've 'mastered' your word part way through the year you should choose a new one for the rest of the year.

should closure turn out not to be a year-long venture. (then, perhaps, something like renewal might pick up where closure leaves off)


(Deleted comment)
Jan. 1st, 2008 04:17 pm (UTC)
i hope you don't mind me checking in with you later in the year to see how nachos is working out for you. :)

Jan. 1st, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)
I think 'purpose' needs to be my word also. Inspiring my brother the builder with 'purpose' so the renovations are finished, then 'purpose' for me to clean and tidy up, although with the installaion of a built-in wardrobe at the end of January hopefully the tidying up part will just happen automatically. At the moment I live in 'Manana Mansions' and it is hard to get motivated when there is more grot and dust to come. There is so much to do, and so little energy with which to do it.
Jan. 1st, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
that almost sounds like Progress to me. :)

"There is so much to do, and so little energy with which to do it.

isn't that usually the way life goes? i know we feel overwhelmed with that idea at times. i'm going to try to remember that i have a purpose behind not giving in to feelings of being overwhelmed and try to take one step towards 'completion' every chance i get.

("manana mansions"?)

Jan. 2nd, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
'Manana Mansions' - never do today what you can postpone until tomorrow. And yes, purpose is probably a more appropriate word.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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