Thursday, January 01, 2009

1st January - New Day

Today is a new day, the first in a new year. According to the calendar I'm using. What's the door knocker about? I guess it's symbolic, and seeing as how I'm teaching a subject called Myths & Symbols this year, as well as writing some fiction materials on symbols, it's on my mind a little at the moment. Symbolic of what? To me, it's about finding closed doors and knocking on them. Or at least imagining what's behind the door and, if it's something you want, find your own way of getting it.

It's also about noticing and enjoying the small things. While in France, I took many photos of castles and cathedrals and landscapes. But I also love photos of small things that catch my eye, like this door knocker. I have another photo of one shaped like a hand. I love taking photos for my bush blog of very small things like flowers and bugs.
I like to put things on my goals list that are both big and small. Big dreams, and small things that I know I can achieve and feel positive about. Setting huge goals that are unachievable is a good recipe for failure and depression.

I'm not sharing my goals with you (one reason is because I've realised half of them are just deadlines for things I have already committed to this year!). But also I like to keep my dream goals just for me, because they act like a guiding star. They might be way up in the sky but you never know, one day I might get that rocket built!
So instead of goals, here are some things that I think might make your year a better one:

1. You have hands, so use them. Don't sit back and wait for things to happen, or the chips to fall your way. Don't bother reading the kinds of books that say, If you want, you will get. Pfftt. As if. You want to achieve something, work out how to go about it and make a start. Then keep at it. You want to get a book published? Write it. Rewrite it many times. When you think it's good enough (truly) then research your markets and keep sending it out. And keep writing, and rewriting.

2. Forward is good. If you keep getting the feeling you're standing still, or even sliding backwards, work out why. And then make something happen to fix it. Take a class. Engage in some serious study. Do whatever you need to do to keep moving forward. Improving.

3. Rest and reward is good, too. Very often we just try to do way too much, and then beat ourselves up over it. Take time to stop, and you'll also find that's a good time to reflect and maybe make changes. Reward yourself for achievements. Set smaller goals so you can have some rewards along the way. Give up using Wonder Woman as your idol.

4. Enjoy the small things. Take time to stop and look for them. The door knockers. The flowers. The way the breeze is wafting the scent of the neighbour's gardenias your way. The huge helicopter flying over your house like a giant orange insect. The last piece of Christmas cake. The first seedling that pops its head above the soil. The chicken fluffing its feathers in the dust. Your small pleasures are yours alone. Enjoy.

5. Friends are wonderful. How many times have you thought, I must get in touch with X. Haven't seen them for years. And then you don't get around to it. Do it now. Even if you take just five minutes to say "Hello, I was thinking of you." People give our lives great meaning and joy, and you can't say "I was thinking of you" to someone who's gone.

6. Practise saying Please and Thank You. I read a column in the newspaper the other day where the writer had decided not to say please and thank you for his coffee in the coffee shop anymore because the person was just doing their job. Oh, for goodness sake! The pleases and thank-yous, the smiles, are what makes that job bearable. How hard is it to acknowledge a service, paid for or not? How hard is it to be generous with your thanks?

7. Try some shoe imagining now and then. Some people already know how to do this, lots don't. Instead of judging straight off, imagine what it's like to be that other person. Walk in their shoes for a couple of minutes. Instead of using media labels like dole bludger or rich celebrity, take some time to imagine their lives, imagine them as real people with feelings rather than stereotypes. See yourself on a leaky boat with no family left, or in a village with no food and water. Imagine having photographers stalking you every day. Or living in a country where to speak out is to become a target. I'm not asking you to donate money, just open yourself up to what other lives are like.

8. Try harder to be happy with what you have. The big buzzword is frugality, but that's only part of it, and it is fast becoming just a meaningless media term. Yep, it'll be a hard year for lots of people this year. That's why they all spent millions of dollars in the after-Xmas sales. Getting ready for having less. Good one. I have a house, a car, a fridge full of food. I'm doing OK. If in doubt, see (7).

Am I being boring and didactic here? Oh, quite possibly. But after a week of enjoying peace and quiet in my house and, at the same time, reading the newspaper every day, this is what I've written on 1 January 2009.

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