So here we are on the last square of the 2012 game board. The tendency for our society is to reflect on what went right, what went wrong, and how we can do it better next year. Kind of like the end of a book and the subsequent analysis of it. Tomorrow we start a new book, metaphorically speaking.
It’s hard to know what the title of 2013′s book will be until later, but I suppose we could put a title on 2012′s book now. Of course, we all have a different title for our books. Mine would probably be called “The Realignment” or maybe “The Awakening” to describe the clarity I experienced this year. Things I haven’t seen my whole life suddenly became clear to me. It’s like the debris in the water settled and I could finally see to the bottom of the lake. I’d say that was a pretty good year to have been the beneficiary of that life reward.
We can think about the theme we would like 2013′s book to be, but only so much of how the book will be written is in our control. In my opinion, it’s kind of like this. You can steer the car but you have very little control over the traffic. The goal is to steer the car the best that you can, knowing that everyone makes mistakes. So try not to be too hard on yourself or others. That makes me think about New Year’s Resolutions.
I am one of those people who stopped making giant New Year’s Resolutions a few years ago. I really didn’t see the point in it. They say that around 90% of people break their resolutions within a few weeks of making them. “Doomed to failure” say psychologists. That just sets people up to feel bad about themselves. This is to be distinguished from goal setting which is an entirely different thing. I think writing down goals and dreams is a very worthwhile activity.
Why not make some resolutions you can try to keep? Maybe choose something that is a little more reachable? Here are some I’ve undertaken in previous years and they’ve been fairly successful for me. These are just ideas, but you will get the drift.
Try to stop using disposable bags. Take re-usable bags or boxes to the grocery store for shopping. I keep them in the back of my car. It took awhile to get into a regular habit but now I rarely use plastic or paper bags in the store.
Turn off the water while I’m brushing my teeth. I still have to work at that one but I keep trying.
Oh, ok, so there’s only two. That I can think of anyway. Well that’s kind of embarrassing.
Here’s one I’m going to try next year. Come up with a positive expectation for the day before I step out of bed. Maybe I’ll write it down before I go to sleep so I don’t miss it on a day I’ve slept too late. I’ll start off easy at first. Tomorrow’s will be “wish for a Happy New Year.”
If you really insist on making a big New Year’s Resolution and haven’t come up with anything yet, consider picking one from the top 12 resolutions of 2012.
If none of these ideas appeal to you, perhaps you could say that your resolution is to keep your resolution (any resolution) for one week. The above website says that 75% of people keep their resolution for the first week, so then you can call it a success. My goal is success and doing whatever is necessary to be successful. Successful people = happy people = happy world, or something like that.
Well, the clock is ticking so I’d like to say that I am hopeful everyone out there has some positive things they can remember 2012 by and I also wish you a smashing good time tonight and a very happy morning tomorrow! Happy New Year’s Eve!
Originally published Apr. 7, 2012
I have been writing about a 1980 video documentary on Ernst Haas entitled “To Dream With Eyes Wide Open”. In my last blog, I discussed Haas’ idea that artists incorporate their surroundings and then are able to re-present those surroundings with their own personal vision or experience on whatever medium is in front of them: canvas, paper, etc. using whatever vehicle they have in their hand: paintbrush, camera, pen, etc.
Another profound idea in his documentary is that children see in pure vision and as they grow up that is taken away from them as they are schooled and civilized. Adult artists then must relearn how to “see” as they did when they were a child.
“If you are a child in many ways you are really yourself and you have a strange kind of a logic and the grown-ups come and they want to correct all this beautiful logic which is as illogical as poetry because it goes in a truth which is far beyond intelligence. And then comes the school and you learn to read and you learn to write. And suddenly this literary dictatorship pushes away all your vision and you are no more free. You can’t see a tree, no, you have to say “tree.” You have to know where it is, how it is called. You can’t enjoy pure looking, pure observing, pure thinking. But to live without a name this is when you become visual. When there are no captions. When it just is and with it being, it becomes. That means you have to unlearn to read and write and just live a little bit with your eyes…and maybe…music. So you really become yourself. I don’t want to become mystical but in meditation you do that. You forget yourself. You push your ego away while you be yourself. Forget that you want to be the best photographer in the world. Forget that you want to make the prize in this and this competition. There are no prizes, there are no competitions.”
This reminds me of a museum experience I had with another mom and her kids. At every painting or structure, she would stop and recite outloud to her kids whatever description was below the piece. I had not been doing this, merely observing with my own kids and “oohing” or “aahhing” or “wow-ing”. I started to feel somewhat self conscious of myself at this point. Here was the other mom, giving her kids a crash course in art history, their brains growing larger by the second. I sheepishly started to do the same with my kids, a little quieter and now, intentionally, a few more steps behind the other mom. Now, I am rethinking that experience. Maybe it was ok to just observe and experience without all the details and background information.
There are really two big ideas in this excerpt from Haas. The first is the seeing as a child part and the second is the competition part. In today’s world where so much of people’s identities is wrapped up in internet presence and competition in photography is as fierce as it ever was, it is difficult to not get wrapped up in that thinking. By that I mean when you are in the process of creating, your thoughts are not with what you are doing but with what the end result will be. I guess not in the present, but in the future. I like the thought of it – just being at peace with what is. Photographing something because you are drawn to it, not because you are trying to gain critical acclaim or recognition for your work.
Coming up: I think I will take a break from the Ernst Haas quotes and talk about or better yet, show what is going on outside: images of Spring.
Happy Easter everyone!
I am a photographer who lives in Minnesota. I blog about Minnesota, photography, music, food and miscellaneous topics.