What is anyone's goal when they begin to be fascinated by a language, a culture, or even by a new hobby? When someone embarks on the indefinite journey of learning all they can about something, do they intend to pursue their education until old age? Do they intend to immerse themselves forever, to replace their old heritage or interests with something new, something learned secondhand? Maybe I'm far too concerned with wondering about people's intentions for the future, the bigger reasons for why they do what they do. I'm certainly guilty of not knowing my exact future plans. But it seems to me that young people often take a very fleeting interest in what they call their "passions." Understandable, as they are, in fact, young. The young relish the fleeting.
I find myself, as I get older, wondering about my own current passions. For one thing, I know I'm not cultivating them to the extent that they or I deserve. My guitar sits, lonely, in my room in Massy, while I gallivant around Paris - surmounting many annoyances, make no mistake. And my French learning has apparently plateaued to a marginal amount of in-person everyday practice: at the bakery, in the hotel lobby, on the phone with customer service. I do very little creative writing nowadays. Etc etc.
Are the things I'm doing now going to matter to me in five, ten years? I'm learning Japanese now, and I find myself filled with an exciting desire to travel to Japan, but will it be fleeting? I wonder where I'll stand when I have children, and what they'll imagine when I tell them about my youth. They might knit their brows in consternation, wondering how they could know so little about their dowdy mother, who once did amazing things and lived with passion but no longer has the energy or the character to do the same. Or they might roll their eyes at the obvious progression from avid 22-year-old learner and teacher, to loopy and intelligent 50-year-old world-traveler.
This year I have gone from elated to even more elated, to nervous and fulfilled and then, suddenly, to pessimism and negativity. I have lived these past few weeks with the constant awareness that my moods are fleeting and easily changed, the fear that I won't be able to control them when they go downhill. I think the problem with this is that the fear was dictating my beliefs; being afraid of losing control of my moods made me lose control.
Winter can be a hard time for morale, especially when it seems the universe is against you. And let me tell you, the universe has seemed to have a very deliberate vendetta against me for the past few weeks. At the same time, I know that it has brought me several very sweet blessings. I need to stop imagining that there is some formula I need to follow to be the same kind of happy that I was in the earlier months of 2010, and just find the happiness in every moment, starting now.
Years and months, weeks and days even, are like people, I think. You have a different relationship with each of them, and you have to remember that these different relationships are no better or worse than the ones you have with others; there is always something new ahead, and you can't dwell on the past years or the other friends or lovers, always hoping to recreate what you had before. You have to always be creating anew, and that is what makes life worth living. I could not imagine many more worse things than finding myself in a third-rate desk job with a complacent family, doing the same thing day in and day out, believing that because we've found solutions that work, we should use them all the time. 2011 signals a new beginning, among many new beginnings that are happening all around us, and one sign of that new beginning is the abundance of unconventional ways to make money, of new technology we can use to do things we love. 2011 may not be a special milestone like 2000 or 2010. But if you treat it like it's special, it may treat you well back.
Here are my mottos for the year. They might not make sense to you, but that's ok. And if they do speak to you, feel free to take them as your own!
- More literacy.
- Love the dream.
- Beauty is yours.
- Breathe before you break.
- Balance in and out.
- Boho budget.
- No blame.
- Open up to...
And, just in case you were wondering, here were my mottos for 2010.
- Do the dream.
- Go forth.
- Be your dream self.
- Believe in others.
- More music.
- Live your passion.
- Get ready to...
Did I live by them? Most of the time! Sometimes it was hard, or they faded and I had to renew them in other words. What did I get out of this? I moved to France, I faced a lot of growing up in a short period, I learned to play guitar and wrote my own songs, I met some amazing people and strengthened so many of my relationships, I ran a 5K, I lost 20 pounds, I read something like 20 books, and I found a boy who so far comes pretty close to being perfect. (The only problem: he knows it.) The mottos certainly aren't the magic words, but they can help guide your choices.
Happy New Year, and may your choices be guided well. :)